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Yellow squash is among the fruits and vegetables available for purchase at the Starkville Farmers Market on May 2, 2017. Early spring temperatures allowed some truck crops producers to plant their fruit and vegetable crops a little early this year. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kevin Hudson)
May 12, 2017 - Filed Under: Commercial Horticulture, Commercial Fruit and Nuts, Farmers Markets

RAYMOND, Miss. -- This year's early spring temperatures allowed some fruit and vegetable growers to plant their crops a little earlier than usual.

Jeremy Maness, Mississippi State University Extension agent in Smith County, said growers in his county have not experienced any problems so far despite a late freeze.

"Everything is going well," he said. "Tomatoes grown in greenhouses or high tunnels are ready now. We project watermelons will be ready around mid- to late June, and field tomatoes should be ready to start coming off the vine around the first week of June."

Tom McBeath of Union, Mississippi, explains a riding pattern he will judge to a group of young women. McBeath, a long-time volunteer with the Mississippi 4-H Program, is the American Youth Horse Council Adult Leader of the Year. (Photo by Jeff Homan)
May 10, 2017 - Filed Under: Youth Livestock, Equine

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- A long-time volunteer with the Mississippi 4-H program is the American Youth Horse Council Adult Leader of the Year.

Tom McBeath of Union, Mississippi, received the honor at the recent American Youth Horse Council symposium in Wakefield, Massachusetts. He has spent nearly four decades working with youth to establish strong foundations for successful experiences with horses.

John Orlowski, a Mississippi State University assistant research and Extension professor, inspects soybean seedlings in a plot at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville. Orlowski will coordinate the first Mississippi Soybean Yield Contest. (Photo by MSU Delta Research and Extension Center/Kenner Patton)
May 8, 2017 - Filed Under: Soybeans

STONEVILLE, Miss. – The state's soybean producers can put their skills to the test this year in the first Mississippi Soybean Yield Contest.

Yield contests encourage growers to conduct on-farm research, evaluate their agronomic practices, and increase yields and profits.

The Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board funds the contest with producer checkoff funds. The Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Mississippi Soybean Association will administer the competition.

May 5, 2017 - Filed Under: Thad Cochran Agricultural Leadership Program TCALP

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Early-career producers and allied agricultural professionals looking to develop leadership skills and policy knowledge about farming issues should apply to participate in Mississippi's premier agricultural leadership training program.

The Mississippi State University Extension Service, in partnership with the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, has established the Thad Cochran Agricultural Leadership Program, or TCALP.

Growers planted the majority of Mississippi’s soybean crop well ahead of normal this year, thanks to favorable April weather. These recently emerged soybean plants on Mississippi State University’s Rodney Foil Plant Science Research Center were growing on May 3, 2017. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kevin Hudson)
May 5, 2017 - Filed Under: Soybeans

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi producers have planted a large percentage of the state's soybean crop well ahead of schedule, giving producers the opportunity for maximum yields.

The May 1 crop progress and condition report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated 69 percent of the soybean crop has been planted. In the last five years, just 38 percent of the crop was typically planted by this date.

Trent Irby, soybean specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, called the progress to date phenomenal.

Lida McDowell holds an alternanthera plant at her home in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, on April 27, 2017. McDowell is a member of the Pine Belt Master Gardeners -- one of more than 60 such groups throughout the state that operate under the supervision of the Mississippi State University Extension Service. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kevin Hudson)
May 4, 2017 - Filed Under: Women for Agriculture, Master Gardener

HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- Lida McDowell taught science and math for 30 years at the high school and university levels, and she keeps finding ways to educate while enjoying an interest she had no time to pursue until retirement.

The raised-bed vegetable gardens she and church friend Karen Walker maintain year-round serve as a classroom for a young audience at Thames Elementary School in Hattiesburg.

“What we’re trying to do is get the kids to enjoy nature, be outside and appreciate where their food comes from,” McDowell said.

Strong demand for peanuts has encouraged Mississippi growers to plant more of them this year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects peanut producers will plant 44,000 acres this year compared with 39,000 in 2016. (File photo by MSU Extension Service/Kevin Hudson)
April 28, 2017 - Filed Under: Peanuts

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Many Mississippi peanut growers are just now planting this year's crop, but their acreage will likely be increased over the amount cultivated in recent years.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects 44,000 acres of peanuts will be planted this year, which would be a jump from 39,000 planted in 2016.

Jason Sarver, peanut specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service and a researcher with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, said he believes the state’s peanut fields could approach 50,000 acres.

Jake Fulgham, the header, and Ty Edmondson, the heeler, take part in a team roping event at the 4-H Spring Rodeo Classic in April 2016 at the Chickasaw County Agri-Center.  (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Susan Fulgham)
April 27, 2017 - Filed Under: Equine

HOUSTON, Miss. -- Chickasaw County residents are feeling the ripple effect of renovating a dilapidated agri-center three years ago.

"Horse events can have a tremendous economic impact on a community," said Angie Abrams, Chickasaw County 4-H agent with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. "The agri-center renovation didn't just benefit a handful of people with horses. It has helped local businesses, youth development and other groups needing a large covered space for specific activities."

Barrel racers, such as this participant in the 2013 Horse Poor event at the Mississippi Horse Park, can improve their skills in a clinic at Mississippi State University on May 27, 2017. (Submitted Photo)
April 26, 2017 - Filed Under: Equine

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Horse owners with a "need for speed" can work on the fundamentals of barrel racing at an upcoming clinic at Mississippi State University.

The MSU Extension Service is hosting the clinic from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. May 27 at the MSU Horse Unit on the Henry H. Leveck Research Farm, often referred to as South Farm.

Dairy producers can visit the 2017 Mississippi State University Dairy Open House May 20 at the Bearden Dairy Research Center near Starkville to see how MSU researchers handle their herd. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kat Lawrence)
April 26, 2017 - Filed Under: Dairy

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Dairy producers who want to improve their cattle management skills can spend a half day seeing how Mississippi State University researchers handle their herd.

The 2017 MSU Dairy Open House will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 20 at the MSU Bearden Dairy Research Center near Starkville. The event is hosted by the MSU Extension Service and the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences. There is no cost to attend the open house, and lunch will be provided.

Mississippi State University Extension Service forage specialist Rocky Lemus inspects wheat interseeded with balansa clover at the H.H. Leveck Animal Research Center in Starkville, Mississippi, on April 20, 2017. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kevin Hudson)
April 21, 2017 - Filed Under: Forages

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Last year's drought will likely affect this year's hay acreage in Mississippi.

Rocky Lemus, forage specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said he anticipates about 690,000 hay acres. The state had about 750,000 acres devoted to hay production in 2016.

April 18, 2017 - Filed Under: Forages

NEWTON, Miss. -- Forage growers looking to improve production and management of their fields are invited to a workshop in May.

The Coastal Plain Forage Production Field Day will be held May 4 at the Coastal Plain Branch Experiment Station at 51 Coastal Plain Road in Newton. The Mississippi State University Extension Service and Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry and Experiment Station are hosting the free event.

April 18, 2017 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Agri-business, Agricultural Economics

GREENWOOD, Miss. -- Farmers can learn a variety of useful information about tomatoes and cucumbers during a May 19 Alliance for Sustainable Agricultural Production field day.

Hosted at Levee Run Farm in Greenwood, the event will cover composting and trellising these crops, as well as ways to control insects and disease. Attendees also will learn about the family farm’s vegetables, flowers, fruit trees, high tunnels and pastured poultry.

Split-cell catfish ponds circulate oxygen-rich water from the larger lagoon through channels to the smaller side where catfish grow. On March 21, 2017, Mississippi State University Extension aquaculture specialist Mark Peterman, left, and Jeff Lee of Lee’s Catfish in Macon examined the fencing that contains fish in this Noxubee County catfish pond. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kevin Hudson)
April 17, 2017 - Filed Under: Catfish

MACON, Miss. -- Mississippi has a long history of catfish production, but recent advances in management and production are changing the way some ponds look and operate.

Catfish ponds have traditionally been rectangular, shallow and large, usually about 10 acres of water. Today, some existing ponds are split in half to make two equal-sized, intensively managed ponds. Another new approach is to use levees to split ponds into cells with fish raised in 20 percent of the area and the other 80 percent used as a lagoon that helps oxygenate water.

Producers took advantage of a break in the typical spring rains to get much of Mississippi’s corn crop planted in late March. Erick Larson, Mississippi State University Extension Service corn specialist, examined corn in Starkville, Mississippi, on April 5, 2017. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kat Lawrence)
April 7, 2017 - Filed Under: Corn

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Fall preparation paid off for many Mississippi corn producers who were able to take advantage of a gap in spring rains to plant much of their crop early.

Erick Larson, corn specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said warm weather and a break in typical spring rains has allowed farmers to make considerable corn planting progress this spring.

April 7, 2017 - Filed Under: Commercial Horticulture, Commercial Fruit and Nuts, Farmers Markets

WOODVILLE, Miss. -- Farmers market and cottage industry sales are a significant part of the Mississippi food scene, and Mississippi State University Extension Service training is helping entrepreneurs take advantage of these business opportunities.

The MSU Extension Service and Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion offers training on acidified canned foods and general food safety at locations across the state. An upcoming workshop will be held April 25 in Woodville, Mississippi, at the J.R. Hamilton Extension Building.

Although Natasha Haynes has never lived or worked on a farm, her professional career has circled around agriculture. She is an Extension agent in Hinds County and host of “The Food Factor,” the weekly video feature produced by the Mississippi State University Extension Service. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Jonathan Parrish)
April 5, 2017 - Filed Under: Women for Agriculture

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Natasha Haynes has never lived or worked on a farm, but her professional career with the Mississippi State University Extension Service circles around agriculture just the same.

Haynes is an Extension agent in Hinds County and host of "The Food Factor," the weekly video feature produced by the MSU Extension Service. She grew up in Jackson and earned a bachelor's degree in family and consumer sciences from Alcorn State University.

The glass ceiling Ann Fulcher Ruscoe shattered in 1996 was outside in the Mississippi Delta’s wide expanse of agricultural fields. In fall 2000, she worked with cotton grower Kenneth Hood of Gunnison. (File photo from the MSU Alumnus Magazine)
April 4, 2017 - Filed Under: 4-H, About Extension, Women for Agriculture

CLARKSDALE, Miss. -- Almost 200 years after Mississippi became a state, residents may find it difficult to imagine a time when women could not be Extension agricultural agents. That time was right up until the late 1990s when Ann Fulcher Ruscoe became the "county agent" for Coahoma County.

"Most entry level jobs for the Extension Service involved 4-H responsibilities. That's how I started in 1980 in Bolivar County," Ruscoe said. "Eventually, 4-H agents would usually become home economists if they were women or county agents if they were men."

Mississippi producers are expected to plant 550,000 cotton acres this year to meet high export demand. If realized, this will be a 26 percent increase over last year’s production. (File photo by MSU Extension/Kat Lawrence)
March 31, 2017 - Filed Under: Corn, Cotton, Peanuts, Rice, Soybeans, Forages

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Strong export demand for cotton and soybean is causing Mississippi producers to shift away from corn and rice as they finalize their planting plans for 2017.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Prospective Plantings report released March 31 estimates the state's growers will plant a total of about 4.194 million acres, a 170,000-acre increase over 2016 acreage.

Alternating wet and dry rice production systems allow rice fields to dry to several inches below the surface before adding more water. Research shows such fields maintain yields while cutting water use dramatically. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Lee Atwill)
March 28, 2017 - Filed Under: Rice, Irrigation

STONEVILLE, Miss. -- Alternating wet and dry production is a radical new way to grow rice, and some Mississippi producers are finding the idea not only seems feasible in theory, but also works well in practice.

Jason Krutz is an irrigation specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service and a researcher with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. He said the technique, known as AWD, grows rice without standing water, which reduces water use by about a third while also maintaining yields.

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