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Floods threaten state crops

Floods threaten state crops
The crops expected to be most compromised by flash flooding in central Mississippi will be early-planted cotton and soybeans that were nearly ready for harvest before the weather deteriorated.

A rainy August has caused flash flooding in portions of central Mississippi and the lower Mississippi Delta that jeopardizes early-planted cotton and soybeans that were nearly ready for harvest before the weather deteriorated. Torrential downpours dropped 8-13 inches of rain in much of Leake, Neshoba, Scott, Kemper, Hinds and Newton counties, as well as parts of surrounding counties, prompting road closures and evacuations. The Pearl River Valley Water Supply District increased the discharge from Barnett Reservoir to 45,000 cubic feet per second on August 25 in anticipation of incoming water and the Pearl River crested at 36 feet before August 30, threatening low-lying areas in Jackson and Rankin counties.

“No one is picking cotton yet, but we are close,” says Mississippi State University (MSU) Extension Service cotton specialist Brian Pieralisi. “We will have defoliation applications going out when this weather system clears. We can expect hard-locked bolls, some boll rot and sprouting seeds in the bur. Seeds will sprout in open bolls when the lint stays damp for several days in a row.” MSU Extension soybean specialist Trent Irby said most soybeans in the affected areas were still growing before the flooding. “The impacts on soybean will depend on the stage of development of the crop,” Irby says. “This is one of those ‘it depends’ type of scenarios. Those acres that are ready or close to ready for harvest could absolutely be compromised with potential for seed sprouting in the pod and reduction in quality, and some later planted soybean acres that are less developed may come out of this round of weather with little to no impact to the quality of the seed.” Field damage will be a future problem resulting from the storm system. “Once we do get sun and start getting into the field, the crop itself will be dry, but the ground won’t be,” says MSU Yazoo County Extension agent Phillip Vandevere.

While there were still numerous full corn fields in his area, Vandevere said the crop was at an advanced enough stage to withstand major damage. “One good thing about the corn is, unless we get to where stalks start falling and lodging, the kernels are pretty hardy,” he says. “I haven’t seen any stalks falling so far.” Reports on poultry houses affected by the rains are still being gathered, but the Peco poultry processing facility in Sebastopol was closed due to flooding on Aug. 24.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Excerpted from a Mississippi State University Extension Service report.

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