Working between rain events, the Mississippi corn harvest has thus far been a stop-and-start affair. Luckily, the crop has mostly escaped negative effects.
“I don’t know that the rains we’ve had have much impact other than delaying harvest progress,” says Erick Larson, Mississippi Extension corn specialist on September 13. “We’ve had above-average rainfall for August/early September.
“Lots of folks have been shut down for the last five or six days and are just getting back in the field now. It’d be nice to have some bright, sunny weather again. It’s supposed to be sunny through the start of (the week of September 17), so that’s a nice prospect for harvesting.”
The state “had some locally heavy rainfall over last weekend. But they haven’t been statewide and we haven’t had a lot of wind associated with the storms. Wind and the resulting lodging is the most damaging issue we could have seen from the storms and delayed harvest. There has been some lodging in hybrids but, by and large, it hasn’t been very bad.”
Mississippi has had storms and a “fair amount of rainfall intermittently” through the entire harvest season. “We had some storms as early as about July 20 that caused a few lodging problems. Most of the August rains didn’t have a lot of wind associated with them.”
Yields and acreage
Yields are slightly lower than what they were in 2017, says Larson.
“But we’re making good progress and hopefully we’ll get the crop out quickly. Last year, in our irrigated demo program, we averaged 232 bushels per acre. This year, we’ll probably be around the mid-220s. The dryland yields we’ve cut so far are around 180 bushels.
“Those are very respectable yields despite the state having some nighttime temperatures well above average during the early reproductive periods. That’s usually one of the most telling signs for corn yield potential.”
With hurricane season in full swing, “everyone is watching how things are developing in the Gulf (of Mexico). Of course, (Tropical Storm) Isaac is hovering around out there.”
The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) “has us at 74 percent done with corn harvest, right now. I was in the central Delta yesterday and there was still an appreciable amount of corn in fields north of Highway 82. The northeastern part of the state is generally the latest region to come out of the field. I think they still have well over 50 percent of their corn yet to harvest. We still have plots in central Mississippi and plenty of corn west of Jackson left to harvest. So, I certainly don’t think we’re further along than what NASS is saying.”
NASS has Mississippi with right around 500,000 acres of corn planted in the state.
What about wheat?
“I’ve been hearing our wheat acreage may increase,” says Larson. “Wheat acreage has been at a long-time low for the last two years. I’m hearing more interest and intentions with wheat planting.
“Certainly, the rainfall we’ve had this fall will probably be beneficial to wheat producers. The last two years, things have been exceptionally dry to the point where we didn’t have moisture to plant and successfully establish wheat during the optimal planting timeframe. That may have limited wheat acreage, as well.”