Although Bill Payne has been able to plant all of his corn seed, he said the farm soil has been too wet to be where he should this time of year.
“It’s been too wet to plant,” the Loughborough Plantation farmer said. “We’ve spent a lot of time trying and a lot of days trying to run water off the fields to get it to drain.”
Heavy rainfalls and cool temperatures have left Payne a couple weeks behind where he should be this time of year. Although his corn has been planted, Payne said the weather conditions have not been ideal.
“It’s trying to come up, I hope it’ll make it. Some if it’s up, some of it’s struggling. As soon as it gets dry, we’ll get planting soybeans. Hopefully by the first part of May we’ll be able to plant some cotton.”
During the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Payne said he is grateful the operations in Lamont haven’t been directly affected.
“We’ve been cautious but we’ve been able to do what we need to do. Hopefully this thing will die down some kind of way. You’re always thinking, ‘When will one of my guys get sick’ or ‘When will I get sick’ and what you’re going to do if it should happen,’” he said.
Hollandale farmer Chico Williams said they, too, have been able to continue their day-to-day operations at Lakeland Planting Company.
With all of his corn and some soybeans in the ground, Williams said they have had delay with the wet conditions.
“It’s been wet and we are behind but we have done a little,” he said. “As the ground dries, we’ll plant more beans.”
Williams said wet weather patterns is nothing new for farmers to deal with.
“It’s sort of par for the course. The wet weather is really not that unusual, we seem to be in a wet cycle. In a few years, we might be back to a dry cycle … We’ve been in a wet cycle for a long time and we’re just in a wetter pattern the last few years, that just seems the way it’s going to be. We’re used to it and we work around it,” Williams said.
According to the Mississippi Crop Progress and Condition report by the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) published April 13, 32% of corn, 5% of soybean and 5% of rice has been planted, which is all down from last year’s numbers at this time.
Mississippi State University’s Delta Research and Extension Service in Stoneville Wayne Ebelhar said some scientists have been able to plant some before the rainfall, particularly in elevated ground areas.
Ebelhar said Sunday night’s rainfall that brought them an inch and a half of rainwater caused their field work to stop.
“Some people got a lot more rain than that. It’s soupy muddy here now,” he said on Monday. “As a researcher, I’m going to plant corn because I can always put an asterisk beside it that says latest I ever planted. A farmer probably is not going to do that.”
Farmers in the South Delta are once again dealing with flooded cropland again from the Mississippi River flooding.
“There’s a lot of water standing, farmers right now are feeling frustrations,” he said. “Even your best farmers, if mother nature doesn’t cooperate, it doesn’t matter how good they are.”
According to a Progressive Plantings report by NASS published March 31, farmers were expected to plant more corn and soybean acreage.
Producers surveyed intended to plant about 97 million acres of corn this year, up 8% from 2019 and soybean growers intend to plant 83.5 million million acres this year, up 10% from last year.
“I think we’re going to see some shift in what ends up getting planted, but right now no one really nows,” Ebelhar said. “We should be through planting corn, but we’re not. We should be planting a lot of beans, but we’re not.”
NASS also released the quarterly Grain Stocks report to provide estimates of on-farm and off-farm stocks as of March 1. Key findings in that report include:
* Corn stocks totaled 7.95 billion bushels, down 8% from the same time last year. On-farm corn stocks were down 13% from a year ago, but off-farm stocks were up less than 1%;
* Soybeans stored totaled 2.25 billion bushels, down 17% from March 1, 2019. On-farm soybean stocks were down 20% from a year ago, while off-farm stocks were down 15%;
* All wheat stored totaled 1.41 billion bushels, down 11% from a year ago. On-farm all wheat stocks went down 8% from last year, while off-farm stocks went down 12%; and
* Durum wheat stored totaled 51.5 million bushels, down 31% from March 1, 2019. On-farm Durum stocks were down 42% from a year ago, while off-farm stocks of Durum wheat were down 17%.