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USDA Report Confirms 1996 Crop Successes
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Another month closer to closing the books on the 1996 crops and farmers are starting to breathe easier.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released the Sept. 1 crop production forecast which yielded few significant changes from the August report. The similarity in the two reports was a pleasant change from last year, when a late drought and insects sent yield estimates plummeting.
Dr. Tom Jones, extension agricultural economist at Mississippi State University, said the national corn yield estimate increased by 1.5 bushels an acre from the August figures.
"These Sept. 1 figures don't take into consideration any losses in North Carolina and Virginia from Hurricane Fran," Jones said. "The losses to the national corn crop could be offset by the benefit Fran brought the eastern Corn Belt in the form of much-needed rains."
Mississippi's corn harvest is running around 93 bushels per acre. Mississippi has about 610,000 acres of corn, a 122 percent increase over last year's 300,000 acres. About 5 percent of the state's corn is grown for silage.
Dr. John Robinson, extension agricultural economist at MSU, said Mississippi's major crops are showing much more potential this year than they did in 1995.
"Cotton and soybean yields were much lower in 1995 because of dry weather and insect problems," Robinson said. "In response to last year's poor cotton crop and flexibility provisions in the new Farm Bill, Mississippi growers planted less cotton and considerably more corn."
Robinson said Mississippi cotton production is expected to decline 8 percent and rice, 20 percent, due to a decrease in planted acreage.
On the other side of the fence, experts forecast Mississippi's corn production to increase 117 percent from 26
million bushels in 1995 to 57 million bushels in 1996.
"The production of wheat and soybeans is expected to increase 68 percent and 25 percent, respectively, above the previous year," Robinson said.
Robinson said growers are seeing relatively good prices for the 1996 crops.
"Feed and food grain prices are considerably higher in 1996, creating the potential for greater farm income from these crops," Robinson said. "For example, a comparison of June cash prices between 1995 and 1996 shows a 67 percent increase for corn, a 31 percent increase for soybeans, a 39 percent increase for wheat and a 27 percent increase for rice."