May 20, 2013 10:23:04 AM
STARKVILLE -- Planting of Mississippi row crops has fallen behind schedule following a spate of wet weather, according to industry experts and government officials.
Ernie Flint, an agronomist at the Mississippi State University Extension Service, says many of the state's farmers are running about month behind but still have time to catch up before it's too late to plant crops.
"I've never seen anything that compares with this spring. I've seen the Delta planted late but never the whole state," Flint said in a statement issued by the university.
The U.S Department of Agriculture says foul weather only left Mississippi with four days suitable for fieldwork during a two-week period that ended May 12.
A USDA report says the percentages of cotton, race, soybeans, peanuts and watermelons that have been planted as of May 12 were far below five-year averages. For example, 52 percent of the state's cotton crops have been planted by mid-May over the past five years. This year, however, only 7 percent of cotton has been planted, according to the USDA.
Corn, which was 91 percent planted, is a notable exception to that trend.
Flint said farmers can plant in the dark to catch up.
"It's far from time to panic," he said. "There's still time to get most crops in the ground before the absolute cutoff date."