Farmer waiting for rain to stop

A tractor pulls a spring-tooth harrow over a new field in western Chickasaw County. Local farmers are waiting for fields to dry out so planting can begin in earnest. (Floyd Ingram / Buy at photos.chickasawjournal.com)

A tractor pulls a spring-tooth harrow over a new field in western Chickasaw County. Local farmers are waiting for fields to dry out so planting can begin in earnest. (Floyd Ingram / Buy at photos.chickasawjournal.com)

CHICKASAW COUNTY – It is supposed to rain in Mississippi in the springtime and wet fields are not yet a concern for farmers looking to get seed in the ground this season.

Good crops last fall has prompted most commodities prices to drop this year, but as all farmers know, that will change before harvest. Farmers hope a high level of production this year will off-set the reduction in price they could get at market.

“Farmers are not able to get in their fields right now because of the rains,” said Dr. Bill Burdine, Regional Specialist for MSU Extension. “But they are ready.

“I don’t see any major delays at this time,” he added. “The weather has warmed up and ground temperatures are where they are supposed to be. Everybody will soon get started and be very busy planting.”

Burdine said corn farmers are probably most concerned about wet fields and would probably like to have seed in the ground this week.

“Corn prices are down and I don’t think you will see as much corn planted in Chickasaw County as we saw last year,” said Burdine. “Corn farmers did very well around here last year, but I think they will back off their fields this year and plant something else.”

Burdine said those fields will probably go into beans this spring.

“The last two years have been outstanding for soybean farmers in Chickasaw County and the price is a little lower, but still good,” said Burdine. “Farmers who were set up for soybeans last year will probably do it again this year.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Prospective Plantings report and Grain Stocks report was published near the end of March and those numbers are near expectations. The Prospective Plantings report uses producer surveys from Feb. 27 through March 18 to estimate acreage plans.

Corn acreage at the national level is expected to drop about 4 percent and that will be coupled with a lower than predicted number of acres planted in corn.

USDA’s report predicts 580,000 acres of corn in Mississippi, compared to 860,000 in 2013. In the last two years, growers produced back-to-back record averages of 165 bushels per acre in 2012 and 180 bushels per acre in 2013.

Soybeans will be the state’s major crop with 2.15 million acres and Burdine said Chickasaw County will be no different. Soybeans have also had two strong years, averaging a record 45 bushels per acre in 2012 and 2013.

Cotton prices are also strong and Burdine said cotton farmers in the area will try to capitalize on those numbers. He did say state projections for field planted in cotton could be up as much as 30 percent.

Burdine said some wheat fields were hurt by the cold winter, but fields planted late are doing well.

“Wheat that was up out of the ground and at a more advanced stage was hurt by the last cold,” said Burdine. “But wheat can stand cold weather and those farmers who planted a little later or deeper probably will do just fine.”

Burdine said the cold has also delayed sweet potatoes slips from maturing.

“Most farmers have got their beds covered and should be just fine as soon as it warms up a bit and dries out,” said Burdine. “We saw acreage drop over the past two years, but I expect sweet potato acreage to be back up to the level it was two years ago this summer.”

Burdine predicted a 15-percent increase in sweet potato acreage for Chickasaw County this spring.

The state is predicting a 15 percent increase in sweet potato fields, this year up to 23,000 acres.

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