OUR OPINION: Weather stress affecting crops

By NEMS Daily Journal

Some of Northeast Mississippi’s key crops are nearing the dry-weather stress levels described for the largest corn and spring wheat states in reports released this week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Normie Buehring, a crops expert at the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Verona, said Tuesday that extremely dry and low-level drought conditions across the region have placed much of the corn crop in or near yield-reducing condition. A danger of crop failure on some farms exists if much-needed rain doesn’t fall in adequate amounts during the next several days, as forecast.
The obvious implication for impact beyond the farmers themselves is in the gross economic impact of the crops, once harvested.
Buehring said the Northeast Mississippi corn crop is in relatively and narrowly better condition than widespread major drought impacts in the Midwest corn belt, and he also said the soybean crop needs rain soon because it is in bloom and needs adequate moisture to ensure development.
Bloomberg News reported that the Midwest situation is the driest growing season generally since 1988. Bloomberg reported about 40 percent of the corn crop was in good or excellent condition as of July 8, down from 48 percent a week earlier.
Buehring said corn planted in March in Northeast Mississippi will fare much better than corn planted in late April because rainfall diminished to fractions of normal in the later spring months.
An estimated 40 percent of soybeans got the top ratings, down from 45 percent, Bloomberg reported. Buehring said the region’s soybean crop still has a chance for strong maturity if rains come. Mississippi is among the key soybean states, but it is not in the top 15 corn states measured by USDA.
As of Monday, more than 91 percent of the production in the U.S., the world’s largest producer and exporter for corn and soybeans, was dry at the topsoil level and 59 percent was at high risk of intense stress and lower yields, Bloomberg reported.
Cotton, another key Mississippi crop ranked nationally, is in much better shape, Buehring and Bloomberg both said.
A USDA weather analysis individually for all states said of Mississippi, “Pastures and hay fields are in need of moisture to generate some growth. Some producers are already feeding hay to their livestock.”
Agriculture does not draw the same kind of daily attention as commercial, manufacturing and retail businesses, but it remains a major part of the overall state economy, producing crops worth billions statewide every year.