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Producers' input helps guide MSU agricultural programs
VERONA – Almost 300 producers of row crops, livestock and other agricultural products met at the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Verona to discuss services they need from Mississippi State University.
The Feb. 17 event helps give programming and research direction to the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and the Extension Service.
“This is one of the oldest and most active groups of its type in the nation,” said Bill Herndon, head of the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center. “Producers of 14 major crops in 27 North Mississippi counties met this year to discuss their educational and research needs and then reported those needs to Extension Service and experiment station administrators.”
The region’s catfish producers need research on the feed conversion ratio of various sizes of hybrid catfish, said aquaculture group representative Jay Schmidt of Chickasaw County.
“We also need research on the aeromonas bacteria in catfish,” he said. “It’s not a big factor in Mississippi right now, but it is present in west Alabama and in Arkansas, so we need to be prepared.”
Beef cattle producers in north Mississippi need more information on protecting their herds from feral hogs, wild dogs and other predators, reported Jacob Megehee of Noxubee County. The cattlemen also requested research on acorn toxicity because of the large number of oak trees in north Mississippi pastures.
The cotton group requested easily understood marketing information and research on managing weed resistance.
North Mississippi’s dairy farmers need more on-farm research, said Jeremy Graham of Pontotoc County. The committee also noted the need to recruit more students into the university’s dairy program.
Equine group representative Lynn Stevens of Union County said there is a need for an Extension equine specialist to help horse owners with on-farm issues and to serve as a liaison with state decision makers.
Forestland owners need more research on second thinning and more information on how wood construction compares to steel construction, said forestry and wildlife group representative Matthew Kimbrough of Lee County.
The state’s goat producers want Mississippi-specific research on parasite control specific to Mississippi is a priority for the state’s goat producers, said Jerry Sartin, group representative and farm supervisor at the Pontotoc Ridge/Flatwoods Branch Experiment Station. The goat producers also requested more general health information for commercial herds.
North Mississippi corn and other grain growers need help getting clearances for using farmer-applied seed treatments, reported Garland Anderson of Chickasaw County. The growers also requested chemical rotation charts and other help with herbicide-resistant weeds.
Ornamental group representative Jeff Fields of Itawamba County reported a need for a horticulture industry advocate for north Mississippi. The area’s horticulture industry also asked for more publications on heirloom roses.
Peanuts are a relatively new cash crop in north Mississippi but one that has great potential said Monroe County grower and National Peanut Board member Don Self. The peanut group requested variety trials specific to the northern counties.
Sweet potato growers would like an Extension specialist for their crop, said grower Danny Clark of Chickasaw County. Sweet potato producers also need storage, pesticides and nematode control.
Byron Wilson of Chickasaw County said the swine producers discussed the need for a swine facility on the MSU campus and for an agricultural environmental engineer to work with their industry.
Turf grass producers need additional research on a replacement herbicide for MSMA, a product that may be taken off the market, said turf group representative and MSU plant and soil sciences associate professor Greg Munshaw.
Vegetable and fruit growers need a list of available seed varieties, reported Jerald Jetton of Itawamba County. The commercial growers also requested help getting a list of companies that sell pesticides in small quantities.