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Drought Begins To Hurt Some Mississippi Crops
By Molly Kinnan
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- As most of the nation focuses on the Mid-Atlantic and Eastern states' drought, Mississippi farmers are struggling through a late-season drought of their own.
The first summer months looked promising to many Mississippi growers, but some crops have weakened due to a sudden lack of moisture in the area.
Dr. Alan Blaine, soybean specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said soybean production seems to be hardest hit by the changing weather.
"In the first summer months, our soybean crop looked too good to be true, but as mid-July approached, their condition reversed," Blaine said. "The soybean plant tends to shut down in extremely dry weather to preserve life. This summer's high temperatures and particularly the lack of moisture has dealt this crop a tremendous blow."
Throughout the years, Mississippi growers have learned to overcome many obstacles.
"Since Mississippi is more susceptible to problems like high temperatures, humidity and insect pressure, we have become accustom to weather extremes, but to go into an extended period of time without rainfall is more than any crop can stand," Blaine said.
Dr. Will McCarty, Extension cotton specialist, said Mississippi cotton production has been affected by the recent dry weather.
"A sizable portion of the state's cotton crop has been affected and has digressed due to high temperatures and lack of rainfall," McCarty said.
Most of Mississippi's corn crop avoided damage from the recent drought-like weather conditions.
"Most of our corn crop had nearly reached physiological maturity when the drought began, resulting in little yield loss," said Dr. Erick Larson, Extension corn specialist. "Corn grown in the Corn Belt matures much later than in Mississippi making it more susceptible to late-season drought."
Corn-growing areas currently experiencing drought which may potentially reduce corn yields include the eastern Corn Belt, middle Ohio Valley and the Northeastern United States.
Dr. Tom Jones, Extension agricultural economist, said the drought has improved prices somewhat, but other factors continue to hold prices down.
"Bottom line factors including large carryover stocks, large acreage and good yield potentials will cause supply to outweigh demand," Jones said.
Even though Mississippi crops have endured their share of high temperatures, yields continue to remain up. Most Mississippi growers remain hopeful for future crop production.