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.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- An abundance of cool-season grasses and legumes means plenty of forage for Mississippi dairy cows, but increased nationwide milk production is driving down profits for the state’s producers.
Producers are receiving $12.75 per hundredweight, or about $1.10 per gallon of milk. A year ago, they were being paid just under $20 per hundredweight.
Brian Williams, an agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the sharp decrease is driven by supply.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Spring rains created their typical obstacle course for Mississippi soybean growers trying to get fields planted as soon as possible.
“Growers are covering a lot of ground this week (May 8-13) trying to plant before the next rain,” said Trent Irby, soybean specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “Frequent rains have made the planting season a challenge. Growers are planting all they can between these rains. Even with these challenges, we are only slightly behind where we were last year in terms of planting progress.”
CRYSTAL SPRINGS, Miss. -- Record-breaking rain and cloudy skies this spring increased disease problems in most of Mississippi’s strawberry crop and decreased the sweetness of the popular berries.
“It’s been one of the wettest Marches in years statewide, and the wettest March in history for Jackson,” said Bill Evans, a horticulture researcher with Mississippi State University. “When strawberry plants get wet and stay wet, they get diseased.”
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Frequent spring rains and standing water have kept farmers out of their fields, reducing expectations for the state’s corn crop.
Erick Larson, grain crops specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said growers are struggling to plant the amount of corn they intended. The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicted Mississippi’s corn acreage would be 800,000, up 57 percent from last year’s 510,000 acres.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Winter conditions did not significantly affect wheat development in Mississippi, but acreage of the state’s only cold-season row crop is expected to be much lower than normal due to poor planting conditions last fall.
Erick Larson, corn and wheat specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said 90,000 acres of wheat were planted last fall. The normal acreage is usually around 200,000 acres. Producers planted 230,000 acres in 2014 and 150,000 acres in 2013.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Crop decisions made in January based on markets and profit potential may be cloudy memories for growers waiting on fields to dry out enough to allow spring plantings.
Brian Williams, an agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said growers have purchased seed and locked in their planting intentions, unless rains prevent timely plantings. Few changes will be based on the market’s response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Prospective Plantings Report released March 31.
SAUCIER, Miss. -- Christmas tree growers in Mississippi expect a 7 percent increase in sales this year, but unfavorable spring and fall weather may hurt future supplies.
Stephen Dicke, a forestry professor with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said growers successfully controlled insect and disease problems this year. However, a wet spring followed by a dry summer and early fall caused some growers to lose up to half of their 1-year-old trees.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi farmers are expected to plant as much as 200,000 acres of wheat this year, but very little had been planted by the end of October because of exceptionally dry weather since August.
Erick Larson, grain crops agronomist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said several factors limited wheat acreage last year, but wheat planting intentions are fairly strong this year if weather allows planting to proceed soon.
VARDAMAN, Miss. -- Untimely dry conditions will likely hurt this year’s sweet potato crop in Mississippi, but increasing demand is keeping prices high enough for growers to remain optimistic.
Stephen Meyers, sweet potato specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said a wet spring delayed planting for one to two weeks. Dry fall conditions limited growing progress and will keep yields from reaching full potential.