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Drought threatens planting of Mississippi’s wheat crop

By JACK WEATHERLY

Farmers have been waiting out the drought to plant their wheat.

And if there is not substantial rain in the next month, there’s a good chance there won’t be a crop this year.

That’s according to Dr. Erick Larson, grain crops specialist at Mississippi State University.

“If we don’t get the moisture … we can’t grow the crop,” Larson said in an interview.

“The dry weather is preventing any planting from going on,” Larson said, “because the farmers know that the seed won’t germinate or may not live.”

Don Respess, county agent for Coahoma County, said the wheat crop there “is going to be very slim.”

Usually, 20,000 acres of the 400,000 arable acres in the county are planted in wheat, but this year it’s probably going to be less 10,000, Respess said.

Winter wheat is ranks sixth among the acreage that farmers said they were planning to plant this year, 90,000 acres, down 40 percent from 2015’s total of 150,000, which sold for $29.7 million, far behind the leader, soybeans, with 2 million acres, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The drought also stands to have an adverse effect on wildlife food plots and cover crops, Larson said.

The timing of the dry spell spared the major crops, even though it prompted burn bans across the state.

The whole state is in drought, ranging from moderate to severe, to extreme and exceptional.

Much of central and east-central Mississippi is under extreme conditions, with a few counties experiencing exceptional drought.

The northern parts of Alabama and Georgia are also suffering under the oppressive conditions, as is much of east Tennessee.

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