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Recent Rains End Drought, Delay Harvest
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Rains provided some relief to Mississippi's dry conditions, but cattle producers were the main benefactors. Row crops will reap minimal profit or damage from the water.
Rankin County agricultural agent Houston Therrell said cattlemen and wildlife enthusiasts were the big winners.
"Pastures were extremely short. Most had stopped growing a month before the rains arrived," Therrell said. "These rains will help the winter grasses come along as well as help pastures gain some grass before the first frost."
Winter grasses are used for wildlife food plots and cattle.
Therrell said county rainfall reports varied from less than an inch to as much as 3 inches.
"Corn harvest was already completed. Soybeans were mostly just delayed from harvest, and cotton didn't need the water," Therrell said. "But cotton was not damaged because the rain didn't fall too hard and knock the cotton out of the bolls."
Lee Taylor, Forrest County's agricultural agent, said pastures were desperately dry before receiving about a half inch of rain. Another rain will help cattle producers before they head into winter.
Sharkey County's less than 2 inches were not a major concern for county agent John Coccaro. Rains arrived too late to help soybeans that needed rains weeks earlier.
"Rain probably won't affect the cotton's quality at this point, but farmers don't want to stay out of the fields too long," Coccaro said. "As soon as a boll opens, cotton is at its maximum weight. The longer it stays in the field, the more weight it loses."
Coccaro said he is optimistic this year's cotton quality will be much improved over 1996.
"Sharkey County probably lost about $640,000 on one quality factor alone last year," Coccaro said. That factor was micronaire, which has to do with the maturity of the cotton fiber.
Bolivar County agent Don Respess said the 2 to 3 inches of rain quickly soaked into the extremely dry soil.
"One rain like that isn't going to be a problem for crops, but if we get into a rain pattern and receive more, we will have a problem," Respess said.