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Corn Growers Have High Hopes For 1997
By Rhonda Whitmire
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's corn growers anticipate respectable yields, but they are harvesting about 140,000 fewer acres than in 1996.
"The prices and expectations at planting time were down from 1996," said Dr. Tom Jones, Mississippi State University extension agricultural economist. "Growers planted corn on 490,000 acres in Mississippi this year, compared to 630,000 acres in 1996."
Jones said growers still planted about 190,000 more acres than in 1995. Expected yields in some counties may be near the state's five-year average of 93 bushels per acre. Recent significant year averages include 1993's 78 bushels per acre and 1996's record 102 bushel average.
Tim Pepper, Yazoo County extension agent, said the price drop is the main reason for the fewer planted acres.
"The potential price is about $2.50 to $2.75 per bushel, which is about half the price of last year," Pepper said.
Dr. Dennis Reginelli, Noxubee County extension agriculture agent, said yields will vary according to how well the fields drained during a wetter-than-normal growing season.
"The potential yield in some areas of Noxubee County is 150 to 170 bushels per acre. In fields with poor drainage, yields may average 70 to 80 bushels per acre," Reginelli said. "But overall, the corn crop is in good shape, and we expect to average more than 100 bushels per acre."
Pepper said he anticipates a similar yield across the state in Yazoo County.
"With the exception of the recent high humidity, we have had very good corn growing weather," Pepper said.
The high humidity has kept the moisture content high and has not allowed the crop to dry as rapidly as needed. To combat this problem, farmers have been gathering the corn slower to allow it to dry before storage and transport.
Reginelli said some harvesting began the last week in July to take advantage of early markets. Despite some early harvesting, the bulk of the corn crop will not be harvested until the moisture levels are down. With good weather, full harvesting should be underway around the last week of August.
"Ideal harvesting weather is dry and windy so the corn will dry thoroughly," Reginelli said. "High humidity and rain will raise the moisture content too high for harvesting. Most farmers will let the corn dry in the field because they do not have grain storage areas where they can dry it."