Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on December 11, 1995. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Crops Hit New Highs, Lows in 1995
By Bethany Waldrop Keiper
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- 1995 has proved to be a year of highs and lows for Mississippi agriculture as some crops reached record values while others experienced disastrous yields.
Forestry, poultry/eggs, catfish and horticulture crops saw increases in value, but the state's overall estimated value of farm production dropped $56 million this year. Agricultural economists at Mississippi State University predict the state's estimated value of farm production will reach $4.37 billion for 1995.
Two major factors in the state's drop in value were the tough weather conditions and insect problems during the 1995 growing season, which sent row crop yields plunging.
Forestry and poultry/eggs hit record highs again this year, with an estimated value of farm production of $1.1 billion and $1.09 billion, respectively.
"Forestry's increase reflects a harvest about the same as last year, but with a slight increase in prices," said Dr. Bob Martin, extension agricultural economist at MSU. "Exports also played an important role in forestry's increase this year."
Dr. Bob Daniels, MSU extension forestry specialist, said the South is becoming the wood basket of the nation, and Mississippi is fortunate to be in the heart of the South.
The poultry industry continued its rise in the state's economy this year, with production estimated at 632 million broilers.
"It seems like all areas of the industry have expanded by each year, and 1995 is no exception," said Dr. Tom Smith, extension poultry scientist at MSU. "There have been some increases in prices, production, income to growers, processing and exports."
Cotton maintained its hold on the third spot among the state's agricultural commodities despite a year of unbelievable obstacles. Cotton's estimated value of farm production totaled $743 million, an $85 million drop from 1994.
"This value does not reflect the net incomes of farmers," Martin said. "Many, many cotton farmers suffered a net loss this year."
Drought, scorching temperatures and uncontrollable insect attacks pushed cotton yields down by more than 200 pounds of lint per acre.
These growing conditions also pushed soybeans down a notch to fifth in the state with a estimated farm value of $269 million, a $61 million drop from 1994. Soybean yields are down about 8 bushels per acre for 1995.
"Both cotton and soybeans saw increases in prices this year, but it was still not enough to offset these losses," Martin said.
Moving into soybeans' fourth place spot this year was catfish, with an estimated farm value of $301 million, a $21 million rise from 1994.
High prices to growers and large volumes of fish processed combined to make 1995 a winning year for Mississippi's catfish industry. Prices to growers were high this year, averaging in the upper 70 cents per pound range.
Horticulture crops also saw a rise in estimated farm value, rising $33 million to reach $123 million for 1995.
"There was a rise in commercial vegetable production this year, along with high blueberry yields and prices," Martin said. "Sales were strong in state greenhouses and nurseries. The pecan crop also fared better in 1995 -- this year was bad, but 1994 was a disaster."
Year-end totals for meat animals, feed crops and food crops were less promising, as all three dropped in estimated value. Meat animals estimated value of $228 million reflected the sharp decline in cattle prices, although hog production was up for 1995.
Feed crops, including corn and hay, also suffered reduced yields this year, with an estimated value of $183 million. The projected short supply of feed crops may push prices up and weigh down the already-stressed cattle industry with more pressure.
Year-end estimates for food crops also dropped to $181 million for 1995. Both rice and wheat yields were too low to offset the high prices paid for the crops this year.