Feature Story from 1997
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Despite recent scares, Americans have the safest foods in the world, but consumers can take extra precautions to see that it stays safe.
Dr. Melissa Mixon, extension human nutrition specialist at Mississippi State University, said consumers play a vital role in food safety.
"Anyone who prepares food is responsible for its safety," she said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The state didn't expand its borders, and no county lost size, but Mississippi is now home to 83 counties, at least on paper.
On July 1, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians became the state's newest "county," as identified by the Mississippi State University Extension Service. While not an actual location, the 83rd county includes eight Choctaw communities in six counties.
RAYMOND -- Seeds are the only things breaking out from prison plots in one Mississippi facility, but the prisoners are still happy with the results.
Inmates at the Hinds County Penal Farm are eating better and costing taxpayers less money, thanks to a gardening program at the facility.
Bill Maily, Hinds County extension agent, helps run the Mississippi Vegetable Demonstration Project at the prison. Meal costs dropped from $1.68 to about 43 cents, saving more than $20,000 a month. The farm feeds the about 200 inmates, and supplements meals at the two Hinds County jails.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cotton farmers and their nemesis, the boll weevil, begin their traditional fall routines with 1998 on their minds.
The verdict is still out on 1997's crop which battled all season to overcome late plantings in cool, wet conditions.
Dr. Blake Layton, extension cotton entomologist at Mississippi State University, described the state's crop as "the most erratic crop we've ever seen." Still, he said Mississippi growers should harvest a better-than-average crop.
By Allison Powe
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- After a season of mostly favorable weather conditions, rice growers are seeing the first signs of a promising crop as harvest begins.
"Rice looks good so far and the yields seem promising, but with only about 10 percent harvested, it's too early to make solid predictions," said Dwayne Wheeler, Tunica County area rice extension agent.
Cool temperatures hurt stands early in the spring during planting time, but weather conditions were more favorable throughout the growing period, particularly while rice was heading.
PICAYUNE -- Already boasting a presence in every county in the state through the extension service, Mississippi State University now has another significant presence in South Mississippi.
In a Sept. 15 ceremony, the Crosby Arboretum in Picayune formally became part of MSU. Valued at $5 million, the arboretum was established in 1980 as a living memorial to L.O. Crosby Jr., a South Mississippi timber pioneer and philanthropist.
By Amy Woolfolk
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Leasing the hunting privileges to land provides a way to raise revenue and help protect the value of the land.
Dean Stewart, extension wildlife specialist at Mississippi State University, said many people who lease hunting rights generate enough revenue to cover property taxes and still make a profit. Lease prices in Mississippi range from $1.50 to $25 per acre annually.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- In the past, 4-H activities ended with high school, but a club at Mississippi State University encourages students to continue 4-H involvement throughout college.
MSU's collegiate 4-H club continues the fellowship and service students found in their local 4-H clubs.
Karen Martin, president of MSU's club, said most 4-H students want to continue their involvement with the organization after high school because of all they have gained from the experience.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- 4-H clubs, already very familiar to thousands of Mississippi youth, will be getting some national attention in October.
Oct. 5 to 11 has been set aside as National 4-H Week. 4-H activities will be highlighted during this time. In addition, the National Ad Council will kickoff their latest campaign that week, this one promoting 4-H.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- With the arrival of football season comes another popular activity -- tailgate parties. Don't let these special times with family and friends turn into an experience with food poisoning.
Dr. Melissa Mixon, extension human nutrition specialist at Mississippi State University, said too much sun and heat can make perishable foods unsafe to eat. Mishandled food can become contaminated with bacteria and cause food poisoning.
By Amy Woolfolk
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cattle producers struggle to interpret confusing market signals and maintain an efficient farms. Better communication between industry segments could reduce some of the confusion.
Dr. Charlie Forrest, extension marketing specialist at Mississippi State University, said market efficiency in the beef industry has fallen behind other industries.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Sept. 2 was a normal day for two Mississippi families until separate farming accidents killed two tractor operators.
An Ackerman man was mowing the side of a pond when his tractor flipped over. Without a roll-over protective structure, ROPS, and seat belt, he was pinned beneath the tractor and died.
In Madison, a man was working on the family farm when his tractor went into a culvert and flipped over on him. Without the safety features on the tractor, he also was killed.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Some Mississippi soybean growers are looking at excellent yields; others, who fell victim to unseasonably cool, wet conditions at planting time, never had a chance.
Mack Young, Quitman County agricultural agent, said this year's crop is divided into early, middle and late crop beans.
"Yields on the earliest planted beans are looking really good. With at least half the Group IV's harvested, yields are running from the mid-30s to the 60-bushel-per-acre range," Young said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Rains provided some relief to Mississippi's dry conditions, but cattle producers were the main benefactors. Row crops will reap minimal profit or damage from the water.
Rankin County agricultural agent Houston Therrell said cattlemen and wildlife enthusiasts were the big winners.
"Pastures were extremely short. Most had stopped growing a month before the rains arrived," Therrell said. "These rains will help the winter grasses come along as well as help pastures gain some grass before the first frost."
By Allison Powe
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Every year more than 18,000 Mississippi women learn they have breast cancer, and about 430 die from the disease.
Although breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among Mississippi women, precautionary measures often can save lives.
Linda Patterson, extension health and safety specialist at Mississippi State University, said many deaths occur each year because women do not have regular mammograms or practice breast self-exams.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Children can treat adults to an enjoyable Halloween evening by using good manners and following some simple safety rules.
Parents carry the bulk of the responsibility for communities having safe, enjoyable Halloweens.
Dr. Louise Davis, extension child and family development specialist at Mississippi State University, said parents need to carefully supervise their children on this fall night, often dedicated to juvenile antics.
By Amy Woolfolk
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Temperatures may be cooling, but yellow jacket season is just heating up before winter sends them packing.
"Yellow jackets are more noticeable now because their eggs hatched in the summer, producing high populations by fall," said Dr. James Jarratt, extension entomologist at Mississippi State University.
Jarratt said the best protection against yellow jacket stings is awareness. Because they generally nest in the ground, they may go unnoticed until it's too late to avoid them.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- With harvest just around the corner, highway drivers often find unexpected farm equipment just over the top of the hill.
Herb Willcutt, Mississippi State University extension farm safety specialist, said drivers need to be cautious on rural highways near planting and harvest times. Several accidents each year in Mississippi involve highway traffic and farm equipment.
"Farm machinery will be on the roads some during these times of high agricultural activity, and farm equipment moves slower than highway traffic and is often wider," Willcutt said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- An improved plow that reduces soil surface disturbance is causing a stir in farming circles.
Dr. Gordon Tupper, an agricultural engineer at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, recently redesigned the low-till parabolic subsoiler he invented in 1972. Shaped like a deep-curved U, this parabolic subsoiler can increase cotton profits by nearly $33 an acre.
"Properly using this subsoiler on just a portion of the state's 1 million acres of cotton has the potential to increase profits by several million dollars a year," Tupper said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi agriculture has evolved into a diverse, multibillion dollar industry in the last 20 years, and the Farmweek crews have covered it all.
Launched in October 1977, Farmweek continues to provide educational television viewers with news from every facet of the state's agriculture. Farmweek's 30-minute weekly shows are produced by Mississippi State University's Extension Service.