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State Saw A Good 1998 Wheat Harvest
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi wheat farmers weathered a late cold snap and rain at harvest time to produce a good wheat crop for the year.
Dr. Erick Larson, grain crop specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said average wheat yields across the state should be about 40 to 45 bushels per acre this year. Last year, farmers harvested an average of 42 bushels an acre.
"Wheat yields across the state have ranged from 25 to 90 bushels an acre, depending on the soil type and whether it was managed for optimum yields," Larson said.
Dr. Tom Jones, Extension agricultural economist, said wheat is currently bringing about $2.78 per bushel locally, down from last year's prices.
"We're looking at more than a dollar decrease from last year," Jones said. "We have a big supply and static demand, which has led to a significant downtrend since last October."
At last report, Mississippi had 135,000 acres of wheat. That is a decrease from the 190,000 harvested in 1997, and 230,000 in 1996. Some of this year's acreage was lost to freeze damage in early March.
"Mild winter conditions promoted early wheat development, which led to worse freeze damage this spring," Larson said. "Several consecutive days of 18 to 25 degree temperatures caused considerable freeze damage in the north central part of the state, and some acres were abandoned because of the damage."
Harvest started the last week of May in South Mississippi, and should be completed statewide before the third week of June, Larson said.
"The rain in late May came at a bad time as the wheat was just approaching the point where it could be harvested," Larson said. "The heavy rain and high winds caused some of the wheat to fall down, making it hard for the combines to pick up. It also reduced the test weights of the grain. Wheat seed weight often drops when it has to weather heavy rains once it reaches maturity."
Don Respess, Extension area agent, said wheat in Bolivar and Sunflower counties is averaging harvests in the mid 40 bushels per acre.
"I was afraid we weren't going to have a good wheat harvest because of the cold damage in early March and because it was wet near harvest," Respess said.
Farmers saw very little insect or disease pressure through the growing season, and ended up with a good year, Respess said.