In the late 1990s some two-fifths of Mississippi’s land was in farms. Crops were raised on 20 percent of all land in the state. There were 42,000 farms operating in 2008. The average size of a Mississippi farm is 106 hectares (262 acres). Farms can average less than half this size, especially in some parts of northeastern and southeastern Mississippi; the largest farms are found in the Delta.
Farm tenancy has declined greatly in Mississippi since the 1940s, and in the late 1970s only about 10 percent of all farms were tenant operated.
The rate of tenancy is highest in the highly productive farming areas of the Delta. Farm living standards are below the national average in most of Mississippi and are lowest in the central and northwestern sections. Only 35 percent of farms produced annual income of more than $10,000 in 2008.
Crops provided 33 percent of farm income in Mississippi in the 2006. Corn and soybeans are now the leading crops. For many years Mississippi was the fourth most important producer of cotton in the country, behind Texas, California, and Georgia. In the late 2000s, however, Mississippi farmers decreased their cotton acreage from 1.2 million (500,000 hectares) to 365,000 (148,000 hectares), and the amount of cotton acreage was expected to fall to 268,000 (108,000 hectares) in 2009.
Although cotton is produced in many areas of the state, most of it is grown in the Delta, where flatlands make mechanical harvesting easier.
Acreage in cotton declined in part due to government acreage controls, but improved farming methods and later the use of genetically modified cotton seeds increased the yield. Large areas once devoted to cotton now go into other crops, principally soybeans. Soybeans replaced cotton as the state’s principal crop in the 1960s. By the 1980s the amount of acreage devoted to soybean production, 4 million (1.6 million hectares), equaled the amount planted in cotton in the 1930s.
By the late 1990s soybeans brought in three-fourths as much income as cotton. Mississippi ranks fifth in the nation for the income produced by its rice crop. Corn is raised throughout the state as a feed crop and for ethanol, and its yield, too, has increased, thanks to new hybrids and better cultivation. In the late 2000s Mississippi planted more corn than cotton for the first time in the state’s history. Other crops are sweet potatoes, pecans, sorghum grain, hay, and wheat. "Mississippi" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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