Extreme drought from July onward is expected to significantly reduce the state’s winter wheat crop that is typically small compared to the primary summer crops, but recent rain may help what was planted.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that, as of Nov. 26, 82% of the state’s wheat had been planted, 71% emerged, and only 50% was in good or excellent condition.
RAYMOND, Miss. -- Michael May expects to see tree growth impacted for at least the next three years on his Chunky, Miss., Christmas tree farm after this year’s severe to exceptional drought conditions that spanned most of the state.
A late freeze, high summertime temperatures and a devastating drought mean a poor pecan crop for Mississippi in 2023.
Eric Stafne, fruit and nut specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said weather stacked the odds against a good crop this year.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Most of Mississippi’s sweet potatoes are grown far northeast of the state’s worst drought conditions, but that did not keep excessive heat and dryness from factoring in this year’s crop.
Lorin Harvey, sweet potato specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said dry weather affected production more than most growers anticipated. Because of the drought, irrigated acres performed better than potatoes on dryland.
Mississippi hay growers harvested at least 28 percent less hay this year than usual because of the drought that reached extreme levels in parts of the state. Brett Rushing, Mississippi State University Extension forage agronomist, said hay producers in the state typically get three cuttings a year, and often four if they manage well and the weather cooperates.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- As long as feeding catfish stays pricey, anticipate paying more for fillets at the grocery.
“High grain prices in recent years have pushed catfish feed prices to $495 to $525 per ton, depending on protein level,” said Jimmy Avery, Mississippi State University Extension Service aquaculture professor at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville. Five-year averages for 32% protein feed hovered in the $375-to-$420-per-ton range between 2017 and 2021.
Mississippi’s cotton crop was in the ground by the second week of June, although fewer acres were planted this year because of low prices and high production costs.
Brian Pieralisi, cotton specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said cotton planting was essentially complete by mid-June. Any unplanted fields intended for cotton were too wet to plant and will likely be switched to soybeans instead.
Mississippi pecan producers faced a particularly challenging year with drought and then rain at the wrong time, but irrigated orchards are making a good crop.
Eric Stafne, fruit and nut crop specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the dry summer did one very good thing: It helped control pecan scab, a disease that is often a problem for the state’s pecan trees.
“Snow” appearing on the sides of highways and bare ground visible for miles is a sure indication that row crop harvest in Mississippi is well underway. As of early October, the majority of the 2022 crop was already harvested, although much work remains for certain crops.
The state’s corn crop suffered through a very hot and dry summer after a later-than-usual planting season, so yields will be lower this year -- but not much lower overall. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated the crop was 71% harvested as of Sept. 11. Frequent rains in late August and early September slowed harvest considerably, but growers have been making tremendous progress when sunny weather allows.
Most cotton in Mississippi got off to an excellent start in May, received the heat needed in June and July, and now is ready for sunny skies so growers can harvest a potentially above-average crop. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates 56% of the crop is in good or excellent shape, with another 38% estimated at fair. As of Aug. 28, bolls were opening on an estimated 25% of the crop.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The condition of Mississippi’s soybean crop in early August literally depends on where you stand.
“We have some really good-looking irrigated soybeans that were planted in the optimum planting window and have made it to this point of the season with very few issues, other than extreme heat,” said Trent Irby, soybean specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “We even have some nonirrigated soybeans that could fall into that same description after catching several timely rains.
Catfish producers in Mississippi are receiving good prices for their products, but their continued profitability faces challenges from high heat and high costs for feed and fuel. Mississippi has 34,100 acres of catfish ponds found mostly in the Delta, with some scattered in Noxubee, Lowndes and Chickasaw counties in east Mississippi.
Mississippi’s anticipated soybean acreage -- 2.35 million acres -- is higher than in recent years, and it may grow even larger by the end of planting season. Trent Irby, soybean specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said Mississippi growers have already exceeded the 2.22 million planted in 2021. The anticipated soybean acreage this year will be the largest planted since 1988.
High input costs and low milk prices have made it hard to be a dairy farmer anywhere in the U.S., but Mississippi producers have it harder than most. Amanda Stone, dairy specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the number of dairy farms in the state continues to dwindle.
With rising prices everywhere, families may expect to pay more for their choose-and-cut Christmas trees this year. But that may not be the case. Mississippi Christmas tree growers faced some challenges in 2021 with weather conditions and price hikes for many of their inputs. However, many growers may decide not to pass those costs on to consumers of their choose-and-cut Christmas trees.