STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Current crop prices do not clearly favor any one specific commodity, leaving growers to rely on budgets, risk management and crop rotations to guide their 2015 planting decisions.
Mississippi’s grain sorghum fields experienced a new insect pest in 2014 that could have caused significant yield losses to a large percentage of the crop.
Angus Catchot, an entomologist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said Extension specialists and agents acted quickly to alert growers of the new threat, heading off almost certain yield losses.
RAYMOND -- Consumers who want Mississippi-grown Christmas trees to deck their halls should shop early for the best selection every year.
“Choose-and-cut Christmas tree production in Mississippi is fairly flat because there are growers each year who retire,” said Stephen Dicke, a forestry professor with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “Growers still in the business are producing more trees each year, but demand in heavily populated counties is much higher than the supply of trees.”
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Excellent summer crop harvests in recent years is partly responsible for a significant decrease in the amount of wheat being planted in the state this fall.
Official estimates are not yet available, but Erick Larson, grain crops agronomist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said he expects state farmers to plant less than 150,000 acres of wheat in 2014. Wheat planted in the fall is harvested early the following summer.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippians love holiday recipes with pecans, but an off year may make the nuts more expensive and harder to find.
Eric Stafne, associate Extension and research professor at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center, said the state’s pecan crop is forecast at 1 million pounds. The state produced 5 million pounds last year, and Mississippi’s average pecan harvest is 2-3 million pounds.
RAYMOND -- Pumpkins are popping up on porches across Mississippi, but some growers had trouble getting them there.
Many Mississippi pumpkin farmers experienced heavy disease pressure and a delayed harvest due to frequent summer rains.
Growers planted more acres this year, but harvested fewer pumpkins than usual, said Stanley Wise, Union County agriculture and natural resource enterprise and community development agent with the Mississippi State University Extension Service.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The major storm that passed through the state Oct. 13 brought a lot of wind and rain but caused little damage to the state’s row crops, because most of them were already harvested.
According to U.S. Department of Agriculture figures released Oct. 12, harvest was 87 percent complete for rice, 74 percent complete for soybeans, 98 percent complete for corn and 85 percent complete for sorghum. Only 38 percent of cotton had been harvested when the storm hit.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi producers are quite happy with the peanut crop they are harvesting in early October, and recent dry weather has provided excellent drying conditions.
“Overall in the state, we’re seeing above average yields, and the lowest grade I’ve heard is 68-69, which is the highest grade some growers have gotten in the past,” said Jason Sarver, peanut specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “Some peanuts have been graded as 80, which is a fantastic grade.”
RAYMOND -- Mississippi’s horticulture industry is seeing an increase in business for the first time since Hurricane Katrina swept away a large chunk of the state’s infrastructure, inventory and markets.
“The nursery, greenhouse and landscape segments are looking up right now,” said Geoff Denny, horticulture specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “People are buying more of these horticulture products. We’re seeing an increased demand for trees, and we’ve actually got a deficit of trees right now.”
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Ample rains helped dryland corn close the yield gap between irrigated and nonirrigated fields, leading to what should be a new state yield record.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture released a crop production report on Sept. 11 indicating strong yield expectations.
“This year’s state record yield is forecast at 180 bushels per acre, 4 bushels per acre higher than a year ago and 2 bushels per acre higher than last month’s estimate,” said Brian Williams, agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service.
RAYMOND -- Although most Mississippi rice growers battled frequent spring rains that delayed planting, hampered fertilization and challenged insect and disease management, early signs point toward a good harvest.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Crop Progress and Condition Report released Sept. 2 indicated that 58 percent of the state’s rice crop is in good condition and 28 percent is in excellent condition. Five percent is harvested.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cotton is looking good across the state as bolls open and harvest nears, but increased cotton acreage planted across the country means lower prices on this year’s crop.
In its Aug. 24 report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated 17 percent of Mississippi’s cotton is in excellent condition and 54 percent in good condition. Nearly all the rest is in fair condition, and that should lead to a good yield for the state.
JACKSON -- Mississippi soybean growers are on track to harvest a record yield this year despite the cool, wet weather that kept most producers behind schedule by two to three weeks.
Trent Irby, Mississippi State University Extension Service soybean specialist, said growers are optimistic about potential yield this season. The state’s average yield is currently projected to be 48 bushels per acre. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Aug. 12 Crop Production Report estimates Mississippi will harvest 2.2 million acres of soybeans.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Crops almost never go from potentially record yields one year to drastic acre reductions the next, but catastrophic aphid infestations coupled with low prices may force grain sorghum growers into that situation.
Erick Larson, grain crops specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said if not for the white sugarcane aphid, the state would have one of the largest grain sorghum crops in recent history.
STONEVILLE -- There is a reason catfish do well in Mississippi: hot summers.
“An unusually cool summer like we have had can create nice days for people, but the temperatures have caused some problems for our catfish,” said Jimmy Avery, Extension aquaculture specialist at the Mississippi State University Delta Research and Extension Center.
JACKSON -- Turf and forage producers in Mississippi need fewer clouds and more sunshine.
In 2014, forage producers raised an estimated 600,000 acres of hay across the state. There are about 60 farms producing sod for sale in the state.
The unusually harsh winter melted into a cool, wet spring and summer, which slowed spring growth and intensified diseases and last fall’s herbicide injury in sod, said Jay McCurdy, turf grass specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Who knew Mississippi corn growers should worry about bears?
The bears are not in the fields eating the crop; they are in the market, eating the profits. When economists refer to a bear market, they are talking about declining stock prices over a prolonged period, usually a 20 percent or larger decline.
Brian Williams, agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said several factors have pushed corn prices down in recent weeks.