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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016

Year has been unusual for crops

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A crop duster sprays a chemical on a cotton field south of Matthews Tuesday.
SIKESTON -- It's not an off-year for area crops, but officials say it's definitely not a record-breaking year either.

"Some of the crop on the irrigated soils look good and has already defoliated," said Mike Milam, cotton specialist for the University of Missouri Extension's Southeast region.

But then some of the other fields Milam looked at don't look as good, he said.

"This year has been somewhat unusual, but it seems like every year is different than what we've experienced before," Milam said. "And farmers have to make adjustments, and most have."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is forecasting an above average cotton crop of 892 pounds. Last year Missouri cotton producers saw a record yield of over 1,054 pounds.

Sixty-seven percent of the cotton crop has bolls that are opening, slightly ahead of average, according to Missouri Agricultural Statistics Service. The crop is rated 6 percent very poor, 13 percent poor, 25 percent fair, 51 percent good and 5 percent excellent, the same as last week.

A lot of farmers haven't had problems, while some of the cotton is experiencing nutrient deficiencies, Milam said. More rain is welcome, he assured, adding cotton needs plenty of heat units and an abundance of rain to prosper.

"We've had so much rough weather, and now with the rain is helping the crop pick up," Milam said.

Over the past four weeks, Scott County got 3.8 inches of rainfall while New Madrid and Mississippi counties received 4.88 and 4.69 inches, respectively. Stoddard County received 6.48 inches and Pemiscot County 4.96 inches, according to Missouri Agricultural Statistics Service.

The current weather has been decent for apple and grape crops said Tim Baker, horticulture specialist for Southeast Missouri.

"We're getting into the time where we get cooler nights, and that's ideal weather for fruit. That's why a lot of varieties' maturity time is in the fall," Baker said.

Since photosynthesis occurs in the daytime, the fall weather and shorter days are ideal for fruit, Baker explained.

"Plants respire 24 hours a day, and the respiration rate will go down with the temperature," Baker explained. "When plants respire, they burn up sugars made in photosynthesis and during the evening, they don't burn up as much sugar so the fruit is sweeter."

Not only do growers want sugar, but also a balance of acids in the fruit, which is why Missouri conditions are ideal for many grapes, Baker said.

Unlike small fruits, such as blue berries, which were a disaster statewide, the apple, grape and other fall fruits' season is not looking too terribly bad, Baker said.

"Some of the orchard folks were saying mid-summer apples weren't quite as good as they wanted or expected," Baker said.

Among varieties grown in the region are Fuji, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Winesap and McIntosh.

"The summer weather -- like when some of the Hurricane Dennis came through -- knocked some of the peaches off the tree. The apples are so much further in time and we expect a pretty good crop," Baker said.

Although not as common to grow in the area as apples and peaches, pears are also in the middle of harvest season and are looking fine, Baker said. "It's a pretty standard year," Baker said. "It was dry so when we entered into it, and people who didn't have any capability of irrigating might have suffered from that. Fruit does need some amount of water to do well, and the hurricane remnant dropped some."

Other crops and their conditions include:

-- The soybean crop is rated at 13 percent very poor, 21 percent poor, 36 percent fair, 25 percent good and 5 percent excellent.

-- Forty-four percent of the corn crop is out of the field. The crop is rated 22 percent very poor, 21 percent poor, 26 percent fair, 26 percent good and 5 percent excellent.

-- The rice crop was rated 2 percent poor, 18 percent fair, 55 percent good, and 25 percent excellent, similar to a week ago. Rain put the harvest a few days behind schedule at 16 percent complete.