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News From 1998

July 2, 1998 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

By Norman Winter
Horticulturist
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center

The botanical name of Periwinkles is Catharanthus, which means pure and without blemish. That is pretty much how we use to feel about them. You may remember them as Vinca rosea, but the official name is Catharanthus roseus.

They were such a favorite of the Southern garden that many people started planting them too early in the spring, making them much more susceptible to disease.

July 2, 1998 - Filed Under: Seafood Harvesting and Processing

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Weather that had most other farmers praying for rain has had a positive effect on Mississippi's shrimp harvest.

"We've had good growing conditions Gulfwide," said Dave Burrage, marine resources specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service. "Two months of dry weather have resulted in increased salinity and temperatures -- the higher, the better."

June 29, 1998 - Filed Under: Cotton

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- An 1880s and a 1920s cotton gin are the latest additions to agricultural engineering classes at Mississippi State University.

Joe Jim Hogan of Oxford donated the cotton gin stands to MSU's Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering in May. Both cotton gins were steam-powered. The older one could gin four to six bales of cotton a day, the newer one could gin eight in a day.

"I thought maybe the university could use it in some way to show people how the old gins were made," Hogan said.

June 29, 1998 - Filed Under: Fruit

By Marcela Cartagena

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Strawberry wine may have a place on country music charts, but Mississippi State University wine researches are looking to score with the state's own blueberries.

"Blueberry wine tastes different," said Dr. Juan Silva, associate professor in MSU's Food Science and Technology Department. "It has a softer and less acid flavor than grape wine."

Silva said the blueberries are shipped from South Mississippi, near Collins and Poplarville, to make this 12 percent alcohol wine.

June 29, 1998 - Filed Under: Water Quality

By Marcela Cartagena

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's high temperatures make people drink more water, but sometimes consumers wonder whether bottled water is any different from tap water.

"People usually purchase bottled water because they perceive it tastes better," said Dr. Frances Graham, a housing specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service. "However, taste is not an indicator of safe water."

June 29, 1998 - Filed Under: Community

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Thousands of miles from the Asian financial crises, Mississippi university students are feeling the pinch.

Dr. Bill Herndon, agricultural economist at Mississippi State University, said some foreign currencies have plummeted in the last six months. The countries most affected include Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Korea, Philippines and Singapore.

June 29, 1998 - Filed Under: Pets

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Fleas and summertime may seem inseparable, but proper treatments can give pets a little relief from these biting pests.

Dr. John Tyler, a specialist in small animal medicine at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, said a combination of treatments usually works best to rid fleas from pets and their environment. Traditional insecticide foggers are ineffective at treating flea infestations.

June 29, 1998 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

By Kelli McPhail

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Keeping fresh flowers proves difficult, but drying flowers can be a creative and fun way to preserve flowers for decoration.

Dried flowers work well in bouquets, pressed flower pictures, potpourri, wreaths and as a wall decoration.

Norman Winter, a Mississippi State University Extension Service horticulturalist, said flowers like strawflower, baby's breath and cockscomb air dry easily.

June 26, 1998 - Filed Under: Watermelon Cantaloupe and Cucumber, Watermelons

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi watermelon growers may be frustrated with the drought that caused low numbers, but consumers are enjoying a sweeter taste from the 1998 crop.

Dr. David Nagel, horticulture specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the sunny days without rain resulted in smaller melons with more sugar.

June 25, 1998 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

By Norman Winter
Horticulturist
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center

Throughout the South they are called gazing balls, gazing globes and garden globes. You have probably seen those brightly colored Christmas-like balls in the landscape and wondered what they were all about. Are they heavy, are they breakable and what do you do with them?

June 19, 1998 - Filed Under: Crops

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's unpredictable weather is keeping farmers guessing, and recent hail damage is forcing some growers to make their toughest decisions.

County agents and specialists with Mississippi State University's Extension Service have been busy across the state during this year's crop season. A cool, wet spring followed by the hotter and drier than normal months of May and June produced two sets of challenges, but recent hail storms may have dealt the hardest blows yet.

June 18, 1998 - Filed Under: Herb Gardens

By Norman Winter
Horticulturist
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center

Basil is as pretty as a coleus in the flowerbed, yet yields the key ingredient to many favorite dishes. Whether you say "bay-zil" or "baa-zil," we can agree on one thing. Juicy tomato chunks mixed with olive oil, freshly torn basil and garlic spooned over hot pasta is a true feast.

June 15, 1998 - Filed Under: Insects-Pests

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- What works in a spray bottle to control insects on tomato plants in the back yard also works to control cotton's No. 1 pest when sprayed from an airplane.

Malathion is a very common insecticide used by cities to control mosquitoes, gardeners to control vegetable pests, homeowners to control cockroaches, farmers to control boll weevils and pet owners to control pet pests. Even the concentration is similar for each of these applications.

June 15, 1998 - Filed Under: Waste Management

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Livestock producers, especially those involved in swine, dairy, and poultry operations, are seeking answers from Mississippi State University researchers about the proper storage and use of animal waste as a soil nutrient.

June 15, 1998 - Filed Under: 4-H

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore handed state 4-H leaders a ceremonial check for $900,000 June 10 night, with the promise that the real money will follow shortly.

"I bring tonight your portion of a million dollars," Moore told the about 850 4-H youth, volunteers and staff at the close of 4-H Congress at Mississippi State University. "Your portion is $900,000 to help me get involved and save young people."

June 15, 1998 - Filed Under: Community

By Marcela Cartagena

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Despite France's 400 varieties of cheese which could confuse a mouse, thousands of consumers consider Mississippi State University's scarce variety of cheeses to be among the best.

"There are so many good cheeses available to consumers, but our cheeses rank among the best," said Dr. Charles White, head of MSU's Food Science and Technology Department. "Our cheese is made with high quality raw milk from university cows."

June 15, 1998 - Filed Under: Pets

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Guinea pigs, chinchillas, rats, mice, hamsters and gerbils are popular in pet stores, but taking home and caring for some of these animals can be difficult.

Dr. John Harkness, laboratory animal veterinarian at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, said packaged pet foods do not always meet pet rodents' dietary needs.

"Owners of small rodents, especially of guinea pigs, usually buy feed from the colorful and often overpriced array of boxes and bags available in retail pet stores," Harkness said.

June 12, 1998 - Filed Under: Wheat

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi wheat farmers weathered a late cold snap and rain at harvest time to produce a good wheat crop for the year.

Dr. Erick Larson, grain crop specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said average wheat yields across the state should be about 40 to 45 bushels per acre this year. Last year, farmers harvested an average of 42 bushels an acre.

"Wheat yields across the state have ranged from 25 to 90 bushels an acre, depending on the soil type and whether it was managed for optimum yields," Larson said.

June 11, 1998 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

By Norman Winter
Horticulturist
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center

While "in the heat of the night" can refer to crime and passion, it also can be a time of miracles for the Southern gardener. Night blooming plants are very exotic yet much overlooked by everyone but the ardent gardeners.

June 5, 1998 - Filed Under: Dairy

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Recent hot temperatures have slowed milk production around the state, making it a little difficult for Mississippi dairy farmers to celebrate June Dairy Month.

Dr. Reuben Moore, dairy specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the ideal temperature for dairy cattle is 55 degrees. Recent temperatures in the 90s have stressed some herds.

"When temperatures reach about 85 degrees, milk production declines," Moore said. "If temperatures don't drop at night, cows have difficulty recovering from the day's high heat."

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