Favorable early conditions got Mississippi’s corn crop off to a good start, but most parts of the state could use more rain to make this year a successful one.

Corn is in the later stages of maturity, and harvest is slated for early August through September if conditions are right.

“This year’s crop got off to a great start and generally got planted on time, and came up to a good stand,” said Erick Larson, grain crops specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “Drier-than-normal conditions during April and May encouraged good root growth and development for most of the corn crop.”

The planting intentions report prediction for the state corn crop was 800,000 acres. According to the June 30 U.S. Department of Agriculture’s acreage report, Mississippi has planted 750,000 acres.

“It is still too early to tell what prices will be at harvest, but given what appears to be a much tighter supply of corn than was thought to be just a few weeks ago, prices have been moving higher,” said Extension agricultural economist John Michael Riley. “As of July 6, the September futures market price for corn was $3.68 per bushel, and the reported Greenville price for the current crop was $3.51.”

Riley said favorable weather across the Corn Belt was pushing prices lower, but the June report showing national corn acreage at almost 88 million — 926,000 lower than the March estimate and 1.43 million below the pre-report expectation — gave prices a boost.

“The low estimates along with the current grain stocks report, which showed more corn had been used from March through May than what was originally thought, sent prices soaring,” Riley said.

Hot, dry conditions during June and July have lowered expectations for the state’s corn crop, particularly for dryland fields.

“The irrigated crop could be some of the best we’ve had in recent years, but the dryland crop has a way to go,” Larson said. “Rainfall throughout much of the state has been very scattered and generally much lower than normal during June and July, when corn needs it most. Therefore, dryland corn in areas where there hasn’t been much rain at all will be relatively poor.”

Riley said the good news for corn producers is that the amount of corn used for ethanol has increased due to favorable price ratios.

“It is too early to know how this season will pan out, but the biggest challenge will be the same one that other crops face — the general economy.”