News Filed Under Cotton
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cotton farming in Mississippi was just another part of the national way of life affected by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
National cotton markets were headquartered in building 4 of the World Trade Center before the attacks. When all airplanes were grounded across the United States, Mississippi cotton was at its peak need for defoliation before harvest, which is done by aerial application.
MISSISSIPPI STATE &endash; A better-than-expected national forecast for cotton production is not helping the troubled price outlook for growers as they approach the harvest season.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture released production estimates on Aug. 10. The outlook for corn and soybeans appears more favorable than that for cotton. The report predicts a 7 percent national decrease in corn production compared to the 2000 crop. Soybeans are only increasing slightly, up 4 percent nationally. Cotton will make the biggest national increase, up 16 percent.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's 1.7 million acres of cotton got off to a good start and are developing well as the crop heads into mid-season.
Farmers planted 400,000 more cotton acres than in 2000, bringing the state's acreage to the highest level it's been since 1974. Soybean acreage is way down, and this year is the first in nearly 40 that cotton acreage has exceeded soybean acreage.
Will McCarty, cotton specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said planting started in early April and was finished in mid- to late-May.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi cotton growers will vote in June on the continuing efforts to hold boll weevils at bay.
Five regions of Mississippi have been engaged in five-year plans to eradicate cotton's No. 1 pest from all fields. Last year was the first year since the early 1900s that Mississippi cotton growers did not lose any yield to boll weevils. To maintain that ability, growers in the state's hill region will have to agree to assessments supporting the organized eradication efforts.
By Crystel Bailey
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Hot and dry conditions made it tough for Mississippi cotton farmers in 2000 even though they managed to increase cotton acreage.
Mississippi's cotton's estimated value in 2000 was $518 million, which was up from $441 million in 1999. This makes cotton the state's No. 3 crop. Mississippi farmers planted 1.36 million acres of cotton in 2000, and harvested 1.28 million acres. Yields averaged 649 pounds per acre, compared to 708 pounds per acre in 1999.
By Crystel Bailey
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- After a summer of extreme heat and dry conditions, Mississippi cotton farmers now battle low yields, low quality and low prices.
Will McCarty, cotton specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said dry weather helped mature cotton faster, which is why more than 90 percent of harvest was complete in Mississippi by the end of October. Typically, harvest is 84 percent complete by this time. Because cotton matured early, yields and quality suffered.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A dry growing season means Mississippi cotton matured a lot faster than normal, but with this early maturing came reduced yields.
Will McCarty, cotton specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said cotton is being harvested three weeks earlier than normal this year.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi State University dedicated a miniature cotton gin in late May that will help both students and researchers in their study of cotton.
The fully-operational machine has clear plexiglass sides that allow viewers to watch the flow of cotton through the foot- wide gin. The cotton gin lacks a drier on the front and a press on the back to be like a commercial gin facility. It is housed in one room of the Pace Seed Lab.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Thrips are the only ones having a field day in Mississippi's cotton as the mild winter and dry, windy conditions have growers scouring their crops and the skies for relief.
Blake Layton, cotton entomologist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said thrips are more abundant than normal, but in numbers similar to last year.
By Rebekah Ray
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- U.S. Highway 82, the internet and telephone wires connect a Mississippi State University father-and-son research team who work on opposite sides of Mississippi.
Both Dr. Roy Creech and his son, Dr. John Creech, are looking for ways to improve Mississippi's leading row crop, cotton. One has a lab at MSU in Starkville and the other conducts research at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville.
By Rebekah Ray
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cotton may be king in the Mississippi Delta, but research at Mississippi State University is helping the white gold grow in hilly sections of the state as well.
Cotton breeding and development is conducted by Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Experiment Station breeders Dr. Ted Wallace and Dr. Roy Creech in Starkville, and Dr. John Creech at the MSU's Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cotton took a beating both in prices and yield this year, but with significantly more acreage than last year, the final numbers look a lot like 1998.
Mississippi cotton acres again broke the million mark, rising from 760,000 in 1998 to 1.18 million in 1999. Yield, however, averaged just 708 pounds an acre, a drop from 737 pounds per acre in 1998. The biggest hit came from prices, which were down 10 to 15 cents from last year.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The drought that began the middle of July has taken a harsh toll on Mississippi's cotton crop, but October would be the worst time for that drought to end.
In September, growers began harvesting their first fields, typically among the lowest yielding acres in a year's crop. Rains during harvest will further reduce the fiber quality.
John Coccaro, Sharkey County agent with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the first 25 percent of the crop were feast and famine fields.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Growers are hoping Mississippi children are experiencing the last chances to see boll weevils in their natural habitat as eradication efforts begin in the North Delta.
Growers across the nation's Southeast have been chipping away at boll weevil strongholds since the early '80s. Eradication efforts that began in Virginia and the Carolinas have continued successfully across Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and into Tennessee and Mississippi. Separate efforts are underway in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.
By Rebekah Ray
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Two Mississippi State University researchers showed that combining remote sensing and variable rates of fertilizer application helps cotton production on different types of soils.
Using a test plot located in the North Delta, Dr. Jac Varco and MSU research assistant John Thompson studied cotton's performance under different conditions.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's cotton appears to be headed for an above average crop in 1999 as insect pressures are low and the weather is favorable for cotton production.
Dr. Will McCarty, cotton specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the overall crop looked very good by mid-July.
"At this point, the crop has good moisture, vegetative growth, fruit set and light insect pressure," McCarty said. "With still months before harvest when anything can happen, the potential of this year's cotton is definitely above average."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's cotton planting is progressing slower and more challenging than some growers would like, especially in areas that have required replanting.
"Flash flooding, heavy rains and hail are causing more replanting decisions than normal for Mississippi growers, and those who planted early have suffered the most," said Dr. Will McCarty, cotton specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service. "Overall, cotton planting is progressing a little slower than we would like."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Farmers across Mississippi are moving some of their acres to cotton or soybeans based on poor prices and a bad year for corn in 1998.
Dr. Erick Larson, corn specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said last year's problems with aflatoxin have been the most significant factor keeping corn acreage low this year.
"Many growers are uncomfortable dealing with the risk of aflatoxin because it develops based primarily on environmental conditions over which the grower has little control," Larson said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Most cotton growers haven't planted the first seed, but they are already making decisions for managing insects.
Continued poor market prices, a mild winter and location in the state are among the issues growers are considering as they make choices between transgenic cotton that is resistant to budworms and nontransgenic seeds. Timely plantings for an early maturing crop continues to be another part of the insect risk management strategy.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Knowing what the weather will be like is about the only variable keeping Mississippi State University researchers from being able to predict some cotton and soybean yields.
Dr. Harry Hodges, crop physiology and production specialist with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, said computer programs have been developed to simulate crop growth. The goal is to know how plants will respond to environmental variables.