STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi's October weather has offered more than enough of the most vital tonic pumpkins need for growth: full sunlight.
But the state has lacked another key element: water. Fortunately, the majority of the state’s pumpkin fields are irrigated, so the ongoing drought has had little effect on this year’s plentiful harvest.
However, nonirrigated pumpkin acreage has seen better days, said Casey Barickman, an assistant professor at the Mississippi State University North Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Verona.
VARDAMAN, Miss. -- After two challenging years in Mississippi sweet potato fields, farmers are hoping for a problem-free harvest over the next few weeks.
Stephen Meyers, Extension sweet potato specialist based at the Mississippi State University Pontotoc Ridge-Flatwoods Branch Experiment Station, said growers are cautiously optimistic as harvest begins.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Demand for turfgrass in Mississippi is stabilizing as housing starts trend up nationally.
Jay McCurdy, turfgrass specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said favorable weather, coupled with optimism in the national housing market, is welcome news to the state’s sod growers.
STONEVILLE, Miss. -- Cue the song “Anticipation” for Mississippi’s rice growers because that title and chorus perfectly describe this point in the season.
“The majority of our rice fields are drained, and we are just waiting for conditions to stay dry long enough for harvests,” said Bobby Golden, Extension rice specialist based at the Mississippi State University Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville. “The weather has made us about 10 days later than normal. Harvest activity should increase rapidly in the first days of September as long as we stay dry.”
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Wet, cloudy weather through much of August has prevented corn from drying as it should before harvest, possibly cutting into farmers’ profit margins.
Erick Larson, corn specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said corn matures at 30 percent moisture. Prices are docked if growers deliver corn with a moisture content above 15.5 percent, which is the standard suitable for corn grain storage.
RAYMOND, Miss. -- With few problems this year, Mississippi’s peanut growers should see a good crop.
“Overall, peanuts are doing very well,” said Jason Sarver, Mississippi State University Extension Service peanut specialist. “Peanuts in south Mississippi received consistent rain throughout the season. We were really dry for a while across northeast Mississippi and the Delta. But between days 70 and 80, we started catching some rains across both regions that helped make a nice crop.”
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- July rains hold a special place in soybean growers’ hearts – and in their pocketbooks.
“July is typically a very hot, dry month, but it’s also one when soybeans still need water to grow and fill out pods,” said Trent Irby, soybean specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “There have been some exceptions, but most growers have been lucky to get some showers to help their crops along.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Favorable weather and a steady consumer appetite for local produce are keeping Mississippi’s truck crop industry strong.
The state now has more than 80 farmers markets, compared to 52 in 2010. These markets make up the main avenue through which truck crop growers sell their goods, but local produce can be found with more frequency on grocery store shelves during the growing season. This trend reflects the shift in consumer preference.
STONEVILLE, Miss. -- As demand for catfish remains high, the only components of its production trending down this year in Mississippi are pond acreage and the price of feed.
Producers are receiving an average of $1.12 to $1.21 per pound of catfish and paying less than $380 for a ton of feed. To Jimmy Avery, Extension aquaculture professor at the Mississippi State University Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, those data are good news for the bottom line.
RAYMOND, Miss. -- An increase in housing starts in 2015 strengthened Mississippi’s timber industry, and stronger demand for sawtimber products used in construction are helping give the industry a boost this year.
James Henderson, an associate professor of forestry with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said timber ended the year with a total estimated harvest value of almost $1.67 billion.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- It was clear by early June that spring’s wet, cool weather caused few issues for Mississippi’s rice crop, as growers got it planted on time and the emerged crop looks good overall.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that as of June 5, the crop was 99 percent planted and 97 percent emerged. Of that acreage, 78 percent was in good or excellent condition, and 20 percent was in fair condition.
POPLARVILLE, Miss. -- The first half of June is usually a busy time for blueberry growers in Mississippi, and this year is no different, as recent dry conditions have expedited the crop’s harvest.
A few scattered small-market “U-Picks” can be found in north and central portions of the state, but most of the commercial activity is happening south of Interstate 20, where rain has been in short supply lately. Wayne County boasts the highest blueberry production in the state.