Growers discuss needs for research, education
VERONA, Miss. -- Producers provided a wide range of agricultural research, programming and staffing requests to Mississippi State University officials at the annual North Mississippi Producer Advisory Council meeting Feb. 15.
Held at the MSU Agri-Center in Verona, the meeting provided producers in 22 of the state’s northern counties from 16 commodity groups an opportunity to meet with representatives from the MSU Extension Service and Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.
“We need to know what our producers need in each county and commodity because we have so many different production environments,” said Jane Parish, head of the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center. “We see our growers throughout the year and get a lot of great feedback from them, but this is a great chance for us all to come together and have important discussions.”
After separating into breakout sessions, representatives from each commodity group presented reports on what they want to see Extension and the Experiment Station focus on in the next year.
Beekeepers want research and education on varroa mite and small hive beetle control. They also asked for education programming on safe pesticide use for pollinator protection, the value of local honey compared to imported honey and the value of honeybees to agriculture.
Catfish farmers asked for additional research on fish health and nutrition and for marketing education programming.
Beef cattle producers are interested in the development of new varieties of cool-season perennials for forage. They also want more information about weed control methods for invasive foxtail and more programming on industry economics and marketing weaned calves. They requested a beef research scientist at the Experiment Station Prairie Research Unit.
Cotton growers want auxin, thrips control and seed treatment research. They also asked for consumer education programming on the importance of crop residuals.
“Auxin research is very important for us because it is new science to me and a lot of growers here,” said Joe Camp, a cotton grower in Itawamba County. “The importance of residuals is something we’ve gotten away from as an industry, and we need to be focused on retaining that in our arsenal.”
Dairy cattle producers asked for youth programming on animal industry standards and protocols, as well as research on economic methods of improving forage production efficiency and quality. They also requested research and programming on how to lower somatic cell counts.
Horse industry representatives asked for education for breeders on overnutrition and lack of exercise in young horses. They emphasized the need to provide as many 4-H equine programs as possible for children and to educate horse owners on genetic diseases and proper hoof care.
Ed Williams of Oktibbeha County spoke on research and Extension programming needs for the forestry industry. Requests included timber tax workshops, leadership training and youth education in forestry. He asked for research on mixed pine-hardwood management and wood product uses.
“In north Mississippi, timber industry issues are market-related. We did a great job starting in the mid-1980s of producing Conservation Reserve Program land and did a lot of educational work across the state with various organizations on how to double our production,” Williams said. “We doubled it and more, and now we have a 53-year glut of pulpwood. Developing more uses for pulpwood would be another way that could reduce the glut.”
Goat and sheep producers asked for more information on marketing options through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as research on parasite control and grazing rotation.
Grain crop growers want research on increasing crop yields, proper sulfur fertilization rates for corn, greenstem fertilization rates for soybeans, and maturity groups and planting dates for soybeans. They also asked for a study on the economics of second fungicide applications on soybeans.
Ornamental horticulture producers asked for education on boxwood blight quarantines and research on cut flowers and native flowers.
Poultry producers asked for educational programs on litter for livestock and row-crop producers, better use of poultry training modules on basic backyard management practices, and biosecurity for backyard and commercial producers. They also requested a poultry Extension associate position in Verona.
Peanut growers want to continue current research on early-season crop varieties and how they perform in north Mississippi. They requested that MSU hire a peanut specialist.
Sweet potato growers requested more information on food safety, certified seed production, and skinning and postharvest breakdown.
Swine producers want to increase participation in 4-H swine programs, continue work with alternative feedstuffs and identify new swine markets.
Turf growers asked for research on sod field conversion technology and weed control options. They also asked for more educational programs for the public on solutions to common problems with turf production.
Agritourism professionals and vegetable, fruit and nut growers asked for testing on tomato varieties, biodegradable mulch, reduced tillage, and irrigation and nutrient management.