STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Thousands of years ago, mastodons, giant ground sloths, saber-tooth cats and short-faced bears roamed the land now called Mississippi. More recently, Carolina parakeets, passenger pigeons and eastern elk lived in the forests and fields surrounding the homes and towns of European settlers living in the Southeast.
All of these animals are now extinct, which means no living individuals remain on the planet. Although climatic changes aided in the extinction of some of these species, others were lost to habitat loss and overharvest.
These are just a few of the many species in the U.S. and around the globe that are extinct. Others are on the brink of extinction. Unless we act, these endangered species may follow the same path as the mastodon and passenger pigeon.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Rain, cool weather, more rain and some wind have slowed cotton maturation, but since the crop was a little behind schedule, the damage may be less than if harvest were already underway.
Darrin Dodds, cotton specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said recent weather is causing some yield loss, but it is hard to estimate how much.
“Being late to a degree helped the crop because rain did not string out open cotton, but given that we are running out of heat, we may have been better off with an earlier crop that had been defoliated and was standing up when the rain came,” Dodds said.
PICAYUNE, Miss. -- Students and families can explore and celebrate the insect world during the Crosby Arboretum’s 11th annual Bugfest Sept. 22 and 23 in Picayune.
The arboretum, a public garden operated by the Mississippi State University Extension Service, sponsors Bugfest to allow the community to foster curiosity and an appreciation of nature and adventure.
Participants can collect and identify insects alongside Extension entomologist John Guyton and others from the MSU Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology.
GREENVILLE, Miss. -- Pecan producers can learn the latest updates in their industry during an upcoming field day.
The Mississippi Pecan Growers Association will host the 2017 Fall Field Day on Oct. 6 at Tri-Delta Pecans Inc., located at 537 Broadway Extended North in Greenville.
Topics include marketing, harvest, pecan grading, and food safety and quality control practices. Attendees will also tour the Tri-Delta Pecans cleaning and processing facility.
PICAYUNE, Miss. -- The Mississippi State University Crosby Arboretum celebrates its formal, 20-year partnership with the university on Sept. 15.
On that date in 1997 the facility was incorporated into the MSU Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine. Managed by the MSU Extension Service, the arboretum is an award-winning, internationally recognized native plant conservatory dedicated to research, education and preservation of plants found in the Pearl River Drainage Basin.
"The arboretum is regarded as the premier conservatory in the Southeast, and it is an important keystone of Piney Woods heritage,” said Pat Drackett, arboretum director. “It is a wonderful educational tool that helps teach people about our local ecosystems and preserves them for future generations. We are honored every day to help fulfill the vision shaped by the Crosby family and the Crosby Arboretum Foundation almost 40 years ago."
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are devastating reminders that storms take a terrible toll on landscapes and proof that some trees hold up better than others.
Mississippi landscapes must withstand flooding, hot summers, seasonal drought, ice storms, winters that can dip to single digits, a humid and subtropical climate, and high winds from hurricanes and tornadoes.
John Kushla, a forestry professor with the Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Forest and Wildlife Research Center, said native vegetation handles a wide variety of environmental conditions, but some species are able to survive storms better than others.
This is the time of year many gardeners have been waiting for all summer.
If you’re thinking about the cool front that blew through this past weekend, I’m afraid you’re incorrect. What I’m talking about is the emergence of naked ladies in gardens all across Mississippi.
I’m talking about the seemingly magical plants known botanically as Lycoris. Common names include magic, surprise or resurrection lily, but some gardeners simply call them nekkid ladies.
Now is the time of year when many of us notice the pitter-patter of small feet in our attics or walls.
Complaints of mice in and around homes are common in the fall. The house mouse is one of the most troublesome and costly rodents in the United States. House mice damage structures and contaminate food sources meant for humans, pets, livestock and other animals.
During the fall, both the house mouse, which spends most of its life in human dwellings, and the deer mouse, which spends warm seasons outside, are searching for food and warm shelter to nest and breed during the winter.
The first shipment of U.S. beef to China in more than 13 years reached its destination in June, and Mississippi cattle producers are beginning to see modest rewards of new market access.
Current cattle prices in Mississippi are up from a year ago. Lightweight cattle are $1.67 per pound, while heavyweight feeder cattle are around $1.35 per pound. A year ago, lightweight cattle were $1.55 per pound, and heavyweight cattle were in the range of $1.17 per pound.
“The cattle market has exhibited strong demand through most of 2017 despite the increased supply of cattle in the U.S.,” said Josh Maples, an agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “Prices have generally decreased over the past month, which is due to a combination of seasonal factors and the increased supply.”
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi is having a breakout of tiny beetles that use pheromones to gather sufficient numbers of reinforcements to overwhelm healthy trees.
Current Mississippi Forestry Commission flyovers indicate nearly 5,000 separate Southern pine bark beetle outbreaks across the state. Outbreaks can range from just a few trees to more than an acre of infested and dying pines.
Outbreaks are especially bad on national forestland, but homeowners and private landowners are also experiencing the problem.
CARROLLTON, Miss. -- Producers interested in growing fruit trees can learn about tree grafting and varieties during a Sept. 15 field day.
Southern Cultured Orchards and Nursery in Carrollton will host the Alliance of Sustainable Farms event. Attendees will see a grafting demonstration, learn about varieties that grow well in Mississippi and tour the farm’s orchard.
The field day is free, but preregistration is required. Onsite check-in begins at 10 a.m. The program begins at 10:30 a.m. and ends at 2:30 p.m. The field day begins at Stephenson’s Bluff, located at 1012 College St. in Carrollton.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi producers are optimistic that the remnants of Hurricane Harvey that moved through the state in late August were not enough to stop corn harvests from reaching a new record.
As of Aug. 27, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated 51 percent of the corn crop was harvested. Growers had a few more days to tackle remaining acres before rains came through the state. USDA estimated that 78 percent of the crop was in good or excellent shape.
Erick Larson, grain specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said many early yields exceeded 200 bushels an acre, with dryland acreage producing at almost the same rate as irrigated acres. The state’s record average yield was 185 bushels set in 2014.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Those of us with a strong connection to the natural world know that attachment was born and strengthened through personal experiences we had outdoors as children, generally when family members took us outside to spend time, relax or have fun.
A new nationwide program began in 2015 with hopes of increasing access to federal public lands for fourth-grade students, along with the goal of establishing connections to the outdoors. Every Kid in a Park begins its third year on Sept. 1, 2017. Every fourth-grader has easy access to a free pass for admission to public land from Sept. 1 through Aug. 31, 2018.
CRYSTAL SPRINGS, Miss. -- Home gardeners and horticulture professionals can learn about the latest plants, research and gardening techniques during the 39th annual Fall Flower & Garden Fest on Oct. 13 and 14.
This year has been a challenge in my home landscape and garden.
First, we have had a lot of rain: more than 93 inches and counting collected in our Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network rain gauge. If you’re interested in being a volunteer rain reporter for them, go to http://www.cocoraahs.org for more information. I’ve seen so many waterlogged landscape beds and lawns that just won’t dry out.
The second big challenge was the heat. When it’s not raining, the high temperatures and humidity have maintained heat indexes that make me -- and many others gardeners -- just stay indoors. Surely that yard work can be put off until October.
But I’ve taken the steps to make my gardening an easier chore
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- A new record has been set in the Gulf of Mexico, but it is not one to brag about because it threatens a multibillion-dollar fishing industry.
The most recent Gulf dead zone measured in the summer of 2017 was the largest ever recorded in 32 years of monitoring. It covered 8,776 square miles, which is closer to the size of New Jersey than the average zone size of 5,309 square miles. Reducing the size of the hypoxic zone is important if we want to ensure continued productivity of the Gulf fishery.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The combination of a middling timber market, a pine beetle infestation and wet weather is doing Mississippi tree farmers no favors this year.
Fortunately, a new sawmill in the state and the prospect of increased manufacturing gives reason for optimism long-term.
Biewer Sawmill began operations this year in Newton. Glenn Hughes, a forestry professor with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said this indicates an upswing for the state’s forest product industry.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi homeowners with private wells have three opportunities to learn how to enhance the quality of their drinking water sources.
The Mississippi Well Owner Network, a program of the Mississippi State University Extension Service, will hold workshops at the Extension offices in Wayne County Sept. 26, Pearl River County Oct. 24 and Tate County Jan. 25, 2018. Each workshop begins at 6 p.m.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Cotton will always have challenges, but few of them will ever compare to the boll weevils that thrived in Mississippi from 1904 until 2009.
“It is nearly impossible for this younger generation of consultants, scouts and growers to understand how hard boll weevils were to control and how much boll weevil control hurt beneficial insects and complicated cotton management,” said Will McCarty, who served as the Mississippi State University Extension Service cotton specialist during “the boll weevil wars.”