By Floyd Ingram/Chickasaw Journal
HOUSTON – Rain this week has slowed the harvest, but local farmers are looking at good crops in corn, soybeans, sweet potatoes and cotton this fall.
Chickasaw and Calhoun county dodged most of the drought that struck the nation’s heartland this summer and higher prices are making farmers with just average yields smile.
“For the most part we are looking at good fields in this area for corn, soybeans, sweet potatoes, cotton and even hay,” said Dr. Bill Burdine, area agronomist with the Chickasaw County Extension Service. “Prices for corn and soybeans are high and farmers around here should do well with this market.”
Rising corn prices continue to garner headlines around the country. Burdine said prices are very high and the Chickasaw County crop is almost completely harvested.
“We are seeing above average yields in the 110 to 115 bushel-per-acre range,” said Burdine. “We had dry weather in the critical pollination stage for corn around here and that hurt a little, but then we got rain. This would have been an outstanding crop if we had not had that dry spell.”
Burdine said the soybean crop is about 50 percent harvested. He estimated yields of about 40 to 50 bushels per acre.
“We are seeing some fields giving up between 65 to 70 bushels per acre,” said Burdine. “We will have an above average crop for soybeans and the market is mirroring the corn crop. It looks like a very good year for our soybean farmers.”
The sweet potato harvest is about 40 percent complete across Chickasaw and Calhoun counties and Burdine said the crop is a little above average.
“We saw between 20,000 and 22,000 acres planted around here this year,” he explained. “The Chickasaw/Calhoun county area is rapidly becoming one of the most productive regions in the nation for quality sweet potatoes.”
Burdine said new sweet potato products are bringing new consumers to the table.
“Sweet potato french fries are very popular and have produced demand for our sweet potatoes,” said Burdine. “Food companies have also started mass producing consumer-ready sweet potato pies and that has helped, too.”
Burdine said the cotton harvest was delayed by the recent cool spell and some fields still need a week or two to fill out bolls.
“Most farmers have begun defoliation and a drop in temperatures slows that process,” said Burdine. “As soon as the leaves fall off they will be in the field.”
Drenching rains this week will not only delay the cotton harvest, but also slow the digging of sweet potatoes.
Burdine said recent rains have helped hay fields that have looked good almost all summer.
Burdine also said barges are once again moving on the Mississippi River.