Feature Story from 1999
By Rebekah Ray
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station is making the state's roadsides its lab as it studies weed control.
Dr. Euel Coats, MAFES weed scientist, said test sites are located across the state to research vegetative management for the Mississippi Department of Transportation.
"We test herbicides at these sites to help MDOT engineers know the effectiveness of products," Coats said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's cotton planting is progressing slower and more challenging than some growers would like, especially in areas that have required replanting.
"Flash flooding, heavy rains and hail are causing more replanting decisions than normal for Mississippi growers, and those who planted early have suffered the most," said Dr. Will McCarty, cotton specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service. "Overall, cotton planting is progressing a little slower than we would like."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Lt. Gov. Ronnie Musgrove and agricultural leaders at Mississippi State University recently praised Mississippi's Homemaker Volunteers for their efforts to improve family life across the state.
Musgrove addressed the organization during their annual meeting at MSU on May 18.
"What you do is try to improve the lives of children so they will be more productive adults and better citizens," Musgrove said. "The work you do across the state in our communities is so important."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Thirteen Coast volunteers have educated and prepared themselves under a new program to be specialists on landscape and natural history.
These people are Master Naturalists, a new volunteer program operated by the Mississippi State University Extension Service and sponsored by Chevron, U.S.A., Pascagoula Refinery. Dr. Mark LaSalle, Extension marine resources specialist, coordinates the program from the Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's 4-H program is looking for more than youth. It's looking for 4-H alumni and adults who appreciate the value of its educational activities.
Morris Houston, development officer for the Mississippi 4-H Foundation, said 4-H is improving its accessibility to individuals and business leaders wanting to support youth activities through the Mississippi 4-H Alumni and Friends Program.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The benefits of rotating corn with other crops continue to attract growers, despite the struggles with low prices and challenges from Mother Nature.
Dr. Erick Larson, corn specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said last year's difficult season and current low market prices resulted in corn acreage falling from 550,000 acres to 320,000 this year.
By Molly Kinnan
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The 1999 U.S. Women's Open in West Point is offering professional golfers and some students majoring in retail floristry management the opportunity of a lifetime.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The time between when a tomato is placed in the well-prepared garden to when it yields delicious fruit can be full of danger for the plant from disease and insects.
Tomatoes require constant care to stay healthy and produce fruit. Check regularly for disease and insects and ensure plants have enough moisture and nutrients.
By Chuck Dunlap
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Ultrasound technologies are changing the way people look at cattle. Technological advances over the last decade have revolutionized how cattle producers and feedlot managers make decisions.
Ultrasound techniques are used to measure the fat/lean meat ratio in cattle before they are sold and sent to the meat processing plant. The ultrasound process measures four variables: ribeye area; backfat thickness; percent of intramuscular fat (also known as marbling); and rump fat.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi dairies are moving into summer's typical slowed production and low prices after experiencing the biggest price drop in history just months ago.
Dr. Bill Herndon, dairy economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said April milk prices were $11.81 per hundredweight, which is lower 20 cents or 1.7 percent, lower than the price in April 1998. March saw milk prices rebound $1.35 from February when they bottomed out at $10.27 per hundredweight.
By Molly Kinnan
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A busy schedule can prevent many parents from sharing personal time with their children, but quality time can be slipped into many day-to-day activities.
Dr. Louise Davis, Extension child and family development specialist at Mississippi State University, told parents not to put off spending quality time with their children.
By Chuck Dunlap
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Investment opportunities abound for the daring and not-so-daring investors as the booming economy has Americans searching for places to put their earnings.
Many Americans still prefer the traditional no-risk savings accounts as their only investment tools. Savings account interest rates have fallen to under 2 percent, the lowest rates available. Other risk-free alternatives such as money market deposit accounts and certificates of deposit offer as much as 5 percent interest rates.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A magnetic card system is revolutionizing the way the government distributes benefits to needy Americans.
By 2002, all states will distribute food stamp payments electronically. Electronic benefits transfer will phase out coupon books, and magnetic strip cards will be used instead.
Dr. Katherine Cason, an Extension program coordinator at Clemson University in South Carolina, said the federally mandated system is making benefits transfer more accurate and convenient.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi soybean growers, much like other 1999 row crop producers, need a bumper crop to compensate for the depressed market prices.
"When the market is this low and the prospects are this bleak, growers always want to produce record yields to lower their break-even costs," said Dr. Tom Jones, agricultural economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The presence of animals can increase the number of ticks in any area, but adequate treatment can reduce the risk to people and pets.
Dr. Doug Gaydon, entomologist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the warmer the winter, the more ticks survive to multiply in the spring. More animals in an area mean tick numbers will be high.
By Chuck Dunlap
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Forest ownership is a significant family asset that can send children to college, provide current and retirement income, and enable a better lifestyle if owners know how to manage land properly.
Dr. Glenn Hughes, Extension forestry specialist at Mississippi State University, said unfortunately, many private, non-industrial forest landowners, particularly minority or female landowners, are not realizing the full benefit of land ownership. Many encounter problems managing their forest land.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Losing a pet can be traumatic for everyone involved, but owners can take steps to increase the chances their pet won't get away and that if it does, it will be returned.
Dr. Fred Lehman, Extension veterinarian with Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, said preventing a pet from getting away is the first line of defense.
"We recommend a fenced yard of adequate dimensions to prevent your pets from escaping," Lehman said. "If no other options are available, use a good collar and a proper length chain to restrain the pet."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Crop insurance programs are too complex for a quick fix, and two Mississippi State University agricultural economists want to make sure policymakers understand that even minor changes can have major ramifications on growers and government costs.
By Chuck Dunlap
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The first week of the Mississippi shrimp season was a slow one for shrimpers, but coastal experts are confident the 1999 season will be successful.
About 942 boats were counted during a flyover of the Mississippi Sound on opening day, slightly less than the 1,000 counted on opening day the year before. The boats will continue to concentrate their efforts in the Sound before dispersing throughout the Gulf, leaving a small fleet of Coast fishermen to work the Sound for the rest of the summer.
By Molly Kinnan
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Many wild dogs and their mischievous antics have become a steady problem for rural and suburban areas.
"Animals are curious and will tend to venture off from time to time. However, keeping a watchful eye on your pet can cut back on some of the wandering," said Dr. Thomas Lenarduzzi, professor of veterinary medicine at Mississippi State University. "Owning a pet is a big responsibility for residents in the city and in rural areas, and pet owners need to be prepared."