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State's Corn Plantings Remain On Schedule
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Recent rains have slowed field work for Northeast Mississippi corn growers, but the state remains on schedule for more corn acres in 1998.
Dr. Erick Larson, corn specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said he expects the state to plant near the 1996 level of 630,000 acres, compared to 490,000 planted last year when growers harvested a record yield of 107 bushels per acre.
"Most of the state is finished planting corn, but Northeast Mississippi still lags behind significantly in some fields. All growers will want to be finished by the end of April or the first of May," Larson said. "The week after Easter, growers worked hard to get fields planted in the northeast part of the state. The following week brought rains that halted planting, but helped most of the Delta."
Larson said delays past the planting deadline will make farmers look at alternative crops, primarily soybeans.
Dr. Tom Jones, agricultural economist with MSU's Extension Service, said corn prices look great compared to the alternatives.
"As good as soybeans have been to us in the past, there are several factors that have reduced their appeal this year," Jones said. "Brazil and Argentina soybean harvests are in full swing, and they are looking at record production. In this country, estimates are for more soybean acres than last year."
Jones said with typical yields, 1998 soybeans may allow growers to clear $42 an acre, compared to corn at $90 an acre.
"Most growers aren't even looking at cotton as an alternative this year," Jones said.
Mike Howell, Lee County agricultural agent, said growers are beginning to shift their planting intentions to soybeans in the low-lying fields that were too wet for corn.
"We have found that Group IV soybeans can be planted earlier than we used to plant them. If corn prices were better, growers might risk later plantings, but at this level, timely planting is important," Howell said.