Mississippi’s mostly good corn crop nears end of harvest


STARKVILLE, Miss. (WJTV) – According to leaders with the Mississippi State University (MSU) Extension Service, the state’s corn crop faced challenges ranging from a midseason flood to an early-September hurricane. However, yields and quality look positive on the nearly complete harvest.

On September 13, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated the crop was 75% harvested. Its most recent evaluation indicated 84% was in either good or excellent condition. Mississippi had about 640,000 acres of corn in 2021.

Erick Larson, grain crops specialist with the MSU Extension Service, said the state’s high corn acreage — while not reaching the high of 850,000 acres set in 2007 — was boosted by strong prices and favorable planting conditions.

“We had less rainfall than normal during March and April, which promoted corn planting and allowed growers to plant their full intentions, or even exceed those,” Larson said. “That is a rare occurrence, as rainfall normally prevents farmers from planting as much corn acreage as intended.”

The second week of June brought drenching rainfall, especially across north Mississippi where 10-15 inches produced extensive flooding. While some areas drained within a few days, river systems in the Delta experienced severe backwater flooding, which killed crops inundated for more than five or six days. In some cases, fields remained flooded for several weeks.

“The impact was catastrophic because all the crops were planted and the inputs had been added, so the dollar value of the losses per acre were extremely high,” Larson said.

According to the MSU Extension report “2021 Mississippi Agricultural Crop Damage Assessment,” Bolivar and Sunflower counties had the most corn acreage lost to flooding. The north Delta counties of Bolivar, Coahoma, Sunflower and Tallahatchie each sustained estimated corn losses of $10 million to almost $29 million.

Corn should post good yields, although not as high as they could have been. June rainfall was two to four times above normal, and this will limit corn productivity, Larson said.

Corn harvest should be complete in the Delta by mid-September, and the end of the month for corn planted elsewhere.

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