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Cotton is harvested at Tyler Huerkamp's Cotton Farm in Macon, Mississippi.

Row crops dealt with challenging weather in 2019

By JACK WEATHERLY

Mississippi’s major row crops this year have dealt with challenging weather conditions – primarily heavy rains that prevented or delayed planting, only to be followed by heavy precipitation in October.

Cotton has not fared well.

The cotton harvest is a little bit behind, according to Dr. Will Maples, agricultural economist at Mississippi State University.

Maples said last week that usually. 87 percent of cotton has been harvested. This year it stood at 77 percent at the time of the interview.

Cotton quality could be harmed by late rains, said Dr. Darrin Dobbs, MSU extension specialist in that crop.

The whiteness of the fiber is a factor in making it attractive to buyers, Dobbs said.

Yet production of cotton is on track to reach another 1,100-pound-per-acre crop, the eighth straight year at that level, thanks to genetic improvements, Dobbs said.

Estimated planting this year is 720,000 acres, far less than in the past, primarily because farmers are being more selective in the soil they choose, Dobbs said.

Hot, dry whether in August and September helped the crop, he said.

Meanwhile, the soybean harvest is “pretty much on track,” Maples said.

The estimated soybean planting as of Nov. 1 was expected to amount to 1.61 million acres, down from 2.2 million in 2018, said Dr. Trent Irby, soybean specialist.

Yield as of Nov. 1 was about 50 bushels per acre, compared with 54.5 bushels last year, a state record, said Irby, who cited a “crazy” weather year.

As of the last week of October, 49 percent of soybeans were good, 19 percent were excellent and 27 percent were fair, according to Maples.

Corn dodged the wet October weather, Maples said. The harvest was in before that wet spell, he said.

National Agricultural Statistics Service estimated that 660,000 acres were planted this year, despite “a lot of replanting.” That is the largest acreage since 2016, according to Dr. Erick Larson, corn specialist with the MSU Extension Service.

Average yield per acre is 174 bushels, down from 185 last year and the record of 189 in 2017, Larson said in a telephone interview. That means about 109 million bushels.

Quality of the beans is “fine” overall, thanks to the excellent dry weather in September, Larson said.

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About Jack Weatherly