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Rains Offer Crops Healing Moisture
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Recent, unseasonal rains are just what the doctor ordered --the plant doctor, that is.
Most of the state received several inches of rain the second week of July, ending drought-like conditions that were taking their toll on nonirrigated crops. Corn was one of the hardest hit by the lack of rain at a critical growth stage, followed by cotton, soybeans and pastures that were suffering.
Dr. David Shaw, Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station weed scientist, said most farmers received more than the proverbial million dollar rain.
"Prayers for rain were answered many times over," Shaw said. "We're back where we need to be, but the crops aren't made yet. They will need rain again in a couple of weeks."
Substantial July rains are often the results of hurricanes or tropical depressions which can cause wind damage as well as moisture relief. Shaw said the unusual aspects of these July rains were the length and slow pace with which they fell.
"Those rains were made to order across most of the state," Shaw said.
Unfortunately, a few pockets in the North Delta missed much of the rain and remained in need.
Ann Ruscoe, Coahoma County agent, said portions of southern Coahoma and northern Bolivar counties did not receive enough moisture to benefit the crops.
"Fortunately, most farmers have their acreage spread out so they could get rain on some of their crop, if not all," Ruscoe said. "The rains even helped farmers with irrigated fields by providing relief from working with irrigation systems. When the heat index and the temperatures are as high as they were, it is hard to compensate for the evaporation rate."
John Coccaro, Sharkey County Extension agent, said most area farms were in better shape than those in drought-stricken parts of the state. At the end of a hot, dry May, rains began to fall about every two weeks.
"The corn looks good and is nearing maturity," Coccaro said. "The extended cloud cover may cause some boll shedding from cotton, but the fruit load is so good we may have lost some bolls anyway."
Across the state in Noxubee County, the story is different.
"The rains came too late for some of the corn. Some of the hay producers went from the first cutting to the second without rain," said Dr. Dennis Reginelli, Noxubee County Extension agent. "Beans and cotton will really feel the benefit. Some beans perked up and grew several inches immediately."
Reginelli said corn growers gained new insight into which hybrids handled the dry conditions best.