The Mississippi corn crop has faced challenges ranging from a mid-season flood to an early September hurricane, but yields and quality appear positive on the near-full harvest.
On September 13, the US Department of Agriculture estimated that the crop had been harvested at 75%. Its most recent assessment indicated that 84% were in good or excellent condition. Mississippi had about 640,000 acres of corn in 2021.
Erick Larson, a grain crop specialist at the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the state’s large corn acreage – although it does not hit the high of 850,000 acres set in 2007 – has been spurred by high prices and favorable planting conditions.
âWe had less than normal rainfall in March and April, which helped planting corn and allowed growers to plant all or even exceed their intentions,â Larson said. âThis is a rare event, as rainfall normally prevents farmers from planting as much corn area as expected. “
Benefiting from timely planting and a dry May, the crop developed under exceptional conditions early in the season, Larson said. The second week of June brought heavy precipitation, especially in the northern Mississippi, where 10 to 15 inches caused extensive flooding.
While some areas dried up within days, the delta’s river systems suffered severe flooding, which killed crops that were flooded for more than five or six days. In some cases, the fields remained flooded for several weeks.
âThe impact was catastrophic because all the crops were planted and inputs added, so the dollar value of losses per acre was extremely high,â Larson said.
According to the MSU Extension â2021 Mississippi Agricultural Crop Damage Assessmentâ report, Bolivar and Sunflower counties had the largest area of ââcorn lost to flooding. The value of the actual damage varied depending on whether the crop was damaged but survived or was destroyed and had to be replanted as soybeans.
The northern delta counties of Bolivar, Coahoma, Sunflower and Tallahatchie each suffered maize losses estimated at between $ 10 million and $ 29 million.
The corn should show good yields, but not as high as they could have been. Rainfall in June was two to four times normal, which will limit corn productivity, Larson said.
âThe main challenges this season associated with excessively wet weather were developmental delay, pollination failure, nitrogen loss and accidental disease,â said Larson.
Although there have been a few leaf diseases, including Curvularia leaf spot, southern rust, and southern corn leaf blight, none have become a crisis situation.
âThere was more than normal interest in managing these diseases because the commodity prices were so good and the yield potential was high,â Larson said.
The maize harvest is expected to be completed in the Delta by mid-September, and the end of the month for maize planted elsewhere. Precipitation, cool weather and humidity have slowed the drying process and the progress of the harvest to date.
Corn will get good prices when it hits the market. Will Maples, agricultural extension economist, said there has been a great improvement in the corn market since 2020.
âThe December futures contract peaked above $ 6 in early May and again in early June, and December futures have traded consistently above $ 5 since early April,â Maples said. âThe main driver of corn prices has been strong export demand. “
The USDA recorded a national average farm price for corn of $ 3.56 per bushel in 2019 and $ 4.40 per bushel in 2020. The current projected national average farm price is $ 5.75. Strong exports help keep the price high. The USDA estimates a 56% increase in US corn exports in the last marketing year, much of which can be attributed to large purchases from China.
“Corn exports are currently expected to remain strong for the 2021 marketing year,” Maples said. “Ethanol remains a key source of demand for US corn, with current projections at 5,200 million bushels for 2021, an increase of 125 million bushels from last year.”