Feature Story from 2000
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- When Mississippians need information, the Extension Service is ready with a variety of tools to get the facts into their hands.
When personal knowledge falls short, they can turn to the Mississippi State University Extension Service. Extension is the arm of the state's land-grant institution responsible for taking the knowledge of the university to the people of the state. It does this through agents in each county, short courses, field days, demonstrations, workshops and Internet resources.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Normally, hay growers do not get nervous about a drought until July, but this is not likely to be a normal year.
The last soaking rain is a vague memory for most growers and by mid-May, conditions were more like July.
By Chantel Lott
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mosquitoes may be a summertime nuisance to people, but their threat of transmitting heartworms to dogs is year round in Mississippi.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- When parents and coaches set good examples, team sports do more for kids than teach them the rules of the game and get them in shape.
Playing on a team is one of the best ways for children to learn life lessons as they see responsibility, respect, fairness and sportsmanship modeled. Coaches are in the unique position to mold their athletes' character on and off the playing field, and parents on the sidelines can reinforce these positive messages.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Thrips are the only ones having a field day in Mississippi's cotton as the mild winter and dry, windy conditions have growers scouring their crops and the skies for relief.
Blake Layton, cotton entomologist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said thrips are more abundant than normal, but in numbers similar to last year.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- High school graduation is an important rite of passage in the journey away from parental control, but parents still can play vital roles by being available to provide support and guidance.
"Many career and future education choices are made as early as eighth grade when vocational or college class choices are made," said Louise Davis, child and family development specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The phrase "love is in the air" takes on a new meaning each spring and fall as love bug swarms take flight in South Mississippi.
Known scientifically as Biblonidae diptera, love bugs are members of the fly family. These black insects have a brownish-colored head and thorax, antennas and compound eyes. They may be most easily recognized by the smudge they leave on the front of automobiles.
By Chantel Lott
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Summertime is a traditional season for outdoor celebrations and reunions, but those enjoyable occasions can turn sour if foodborne illness shows up as the ultimate unwanted guest.
About 7 million Americans suffer from food poisoning each year, but 85 percent of those cases could be avoided with proper handling of food.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Growers are just completing their part of the soybean planting process, and now it's Mother Nature's turn.
Tom Jones, agricultural economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the weather forecasts are making the soybean market more volatile than normal as predictions range from adequate moisture to severe drought conditions for this season.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The Internet changed the way many farmers do business as this spring, seeds and farm chemicals were offered for sale online.
Robert McCarty, state entomologist and director of the Bureau of Plant Industry located at Mississippi State University, said this planting season was the first one where farm inputs were available online.
"This was a whole new era," McCarty said. "There are companies springing up regularly to offer pesticides, fertilizers, seeds and other farm-related supplies online."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi State University dedicated a miniature cotton gin in late May that will help both students and researchers in their study of cotton.
The fully-operational machine has clear plexiglass sides that allow viewers to watch the flow of cotton through the foot- wide gin. The cotton gin lacks a drier on the front and a press on the back to be like a commercial gin facility. It is housed in one room of the Pace Seed Lab.
By Chantel Lott
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The South's hot, humid weather is a battle for some homeowners, but there are ways to beat the Mississippi heat.
"The temperature battle is easier to win when the heat is prevented from entering the home, as opposed to attempting to cool it once it is inside," said Frances Graham, housing specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service. "After the heat is inside the walls, fans or air conditioners fight the battle."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Most of the state's crops need more water, but vegetable producing counties in southeast Mississippi are among the driest.
"Even the vegetable crops with irrigation are struggling. The systems just aren't set up to meet this much demand," said David Nagel, horticulture specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
The horticulturist said most systems are set up to deliver about 1 inch of drip irrigation per week. Watermelons are in their highest water-demand period and need 2 ´ (two and one-half) inches per week.
By Chantel Lott
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Selecting more dairy products from the menu may be the best way to increase calcium in the body and protect bones from the weakening and crippling effects of osteoporosis.
"Calcium consumption and absorption are crucial in combating osteoporosis. Otherwise the body compensates by robbing Peter to pay Paul," said Melissa Mixon, a human nutrition specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
JACKSON -- Mississippi State University officials unveiled their plan in early June to direct the action of the university's agriculture and forestry division in the coming years.
Speaking at the Agriculture and Forestry Summit 2000 in Jackson, MSU President Malcolm Portera and Vice President Charles Lee spelled out the course of action. The goal is to improve Mississippi's future by increasing wealth generated by what the state produces from the land and from new industry that is likely to emerge from recent developments in the life sciences.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Projections for this year's corn crop depend on who you ask.
Widely scattered rains across the state mean some farmers are looking at great crops while others expect losses of 75 percent. Drought is the primary concern.
"The extent varies from severe to moderate, depending on the locale," said Erick Larson, corn specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service. He added corn borers and common rust to the list of threats facing this year's harvest.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Good management and planning during the last century is paying off in the abundance and health of U.S. forests.
Marking the centennial anniversary of its founding, the Society of American Foresters recently compiled a list of forestry-related advances in the United States during the past 100 years. With about 700 professional members in Mississippi, the state organization works with the national group to make advancements in forestry.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A look around nearly any part of the country reveals that the United States still is a melting pot as racial and ethnic minorities grow in numbers.
A recent study commissioned by the Southern Rural Development Center headquartered at Mississippi State University, found that the South leads the rest of the country in overall population, population growth and racial diversity. Dr. Steve Murdock, professor and chair of the Department of Rural Sociology at Texas A University, authored the report.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Recent headlines, "EPA to ban common pesticide," may have caught consumers' attention, but the most important message for users is on the need to follow product labels.
On June 8, 2000, the Environmental Protection Agency cited health risks to children as the reason for phasing out the use of chlorpyrifos in gardens and homes and cutting back its use in agriculture. Chlorpyrifos, one of the most common pesticides, is sold commonly under the trade names Dursban for home use and Lorsban for agricultural use.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Burns from mishandled fireworks are a continual threat, but this year's dry weather means fireworks present a serious fire threat in many areas of the state.
Earlier this year, Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove issued a statewide burn ban, but this was rescinded when certain areas of the state received sufficient rain. However, burn bans remain in many counties still under drought conditions. Because of Fourth of July fireworks sales, many communities have extended burn bans to limit or prohibit the use of fireworks.