Thursday, February 8, 2007
Experts advise farmers
By SUE WATSON
Marshall and Benton county producers met with Mississippi State University Extension Service (MSUES) specialists last week to get expert advice on what grain crop mix will work best for hill country growers this year.
With corn prices rising in anticipation of anticipated growth in the biofuel industry, more corn and less wheat, soybeans and grain sorghum is expected to be produced by Mississippi farmers this year, said Jay Phelps, area agronomist with MSUES.
The meeting, which drew about 40 producers, will help them decide what varieties of corn will perform best under varying possible growing conditions and help farmers make decisions on weed and insect control, plant nutrition and seeding rates.
Farmers need to make decisions on their crop mix as soon as possible, Phelps said. Corn and wheat planting time is just around the corner for farmers who want to plant as early as possible to shoot for the best growing conditions.
Speculation on corn, which saw a strong increase in price recently, will divert acreage from other grain crops and soybeans to corn, possible affecting the commodity futures in a positive manner.
“It’s a trade-off,” Phelps said. “As your corn acreage increases, the soybeans and wheat acreage will decrease and so you will have demand (for beans and wheat) there.”
MSU’s grain and wheat specialist Erick Larson said several issues arise as there is more interest in corn production this year. Seed supply will be one and choosing the varieties that do well in Mississippi soils and growing conditions is important to bolster yields, he said.
Average yields last year in dryland corn in Mississippi was 110 bushels per acre while the year was the driest in several decades, Larson said.
Corn yields are dependent on what happens between mid-May and mid-July, he said, the period when corn is growing the fastest and maturing and when rains are more likely sufficient to support that growth.
Larsan said there will be a tight demand for top-flight hybrid corn seed. Yet hybrids adapted for the Corn Belt, may not perform the same in the Sun-Belt states, he said.
Angus Catchot, MSU Extension entomologist, discussed insect control and pesticide uses and Phelps spoke on winter annual weed burndown.
The crop production meeting was held at the Marshall County Extension Office. Pioneer HiBred and UAP sponsored the meeting and provided a fried catfish lunch with Benton County’s Darrell Morrison and Dale Derrick serving as cooks for the event.
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