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Feature Story

June 9, 1997 - Filed Under: Soils, Lawn and Garden

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- One gardener's trash can become his treasure in a matter of weeks.

The piles of weeds, clippings and leaves often discarded can instead be naturally recycled. A well-tended compost pile quickly changes mounds of organic matter into rich soil additives.

Dr. David Nagel, Mississippi State University extension horticulturist, said compost is the result of microorganisms processing organic waste.

June 9, 1997 - Filed Under: Commercial Horticulture, Soils, Forest Soils, Lawn and Garden, Forestry

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Erosion is more than an unsightly nuisance because if left unattended, it can wash away vast amounts of soil.

Larry Oldham, extension soil specialist at Mississippi State University, said erosion is simply soil being moved by water or wind. Some degree of erosion occurs nearly everywhere.

"Anytime you scratch up the surface of the soil, you're going to have the potential for erosion if you don't put some type of cover over it," Oldham said.

June 9, 1997 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Forestry, Timber Harvest

By Allison Powe

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Many Mississippians don't see the forests for the pines. Pine trees are not the state's only timber resource, just the most noticeable.

As Mississippians drive along state highways and see acre after acre of planted pines, some wonder if the state is losing its hardwoods. However, the majority of trees growing in Mississippi are oaks, hickories and other hardwoods.

June 6, 1997 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Dairy

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Sixty years after the first June Dairy Month, Mississippians are still enjoying the product, but substantially fewer farmers continue in the business.

"Just in the last five years, Mississippi has lost about 40 dairy herds annually," said Dr. Reuben Moore, extension dairy specialist at Mississippi State University. "It's a matter of profitability. These dairies would not be closing if the financial incentive was there. Someone would take over the operation."

May 30, 1997 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Crops, Soils

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Many Mississippi farmers are witnessing too much of a good thing.

Moisture is an important ingredient in establishing a new crop, but rains in the last weeks of May have left many crops struggling to develop uniform stands.

Larry Oldham, extension soil specialist at Mississippi State University, said most fields need drier conditions and warmer weather.

May 26, 1997 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Crops, Soybeans

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Several Mississippi farmers have made smart management changes and increased their average yields by more than 14 bushels an acre.

At $7 a bushel, that increases income by almost $100 an acre. If half of the state's 2 million soybean acres saw this increase, soybean income would rise about $100 million annually.

May 26, 1997 - Filed Under: Environment, Natural Resources

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Whether hunting for turkey or a better way to manage forestland, a project underway at Mississippi State University can help.

The Mississippi Gap Analysis Program is collecting data to provide a complete picture of the state's natural resources. The program will provide a wealth of information on how to better manage Mississippi's natural resources.

May 26, 1997 - Filed Under: Animal Health

By Allison Powe

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Students experience information overload, but educators at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine are teaching professionals a new method to prepare students for jobs that demand current information.

After having employed problem-based learning to help students learn material better and prepare them for evolving careers, professors at MSU's veterinary college are giving tips to other institutions that want to design their own PBL programs.

May 26, 1997 - Filed Under: Nuisance Wildlife and Damage Management, Urban and Backyard Wildlife, Family

By Allison Powe

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Homeowners must face continuous efforts to keep their houses in good condition, and when animal invasions occur, people struggle to win a battle against nature.

Mississippi residents often face small intruders, such as mice, wanting to share their homes, but other unwelcome guests may also become home invaders.

"Squirrels, raccoons, bats and birds will occasionally come into homes that have unsecured vents, chimneys or other small openings," said Phil Mastrangelo, state director of Animal Damage Control.

May 23, 1997 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Crops, Fruit

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi strawberry acres are few, but even an average yield provides the state with at least a $250,000 crop.

Strawberry season closed near the end of May in the southern part of the state, but cool temperatures kept the season open into early June farther north. South Mississippi has most of the state's 25 to 35 acres of strawberry farms.

May 16, 1997 - Filed Under: Catfish

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A cool April and May have kept water temperatures low and slowed growth among the state's catfish.

Water temperatures recently have been well below 70 degrees, and by mid-May had only reached 67 to 72 degrees. Optimum temperatures for catfish growth is 80 to 85 degrees.

James Steeby, district extension agent for aquaculture in Belzoni, said cold water temperatures slow catfishes' eating and delay spawning. As cold-blooded creatures, water temperatures regulate catfish appetites, and they don't eat well when they are cold.

May 12, 1997 - Filed Under: Agriculture

By Linda Breazeale

VERONA -- If Old MacDonald had a pizza farm, he'd grow more than pigs and cows.

May 12, 1997 - Filed Under: Agriculture

By Bonnie Coblentz

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Keeping a good, productive pond is a constant battle against natural processes that keep habitats in an ever-changing state.

"All ponds and lakes are born to die," said Dr. Marty Brunson, Mississippi State University extension wildlife and fisheries specialist. "If given enough time without intervention, they fill up with silt, become shallow, then turn into a bog, marsh and finally dry land."

But the process can be postponed indefinitely.

May 12, 1997 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Insects-Crop Pests, Insects

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Last winter's mild temperatures not only were easy on Mississippi people, but the state's insects as well.

The lack of a sustained deep freeze, together with the warm, relatively dry spring has resulted in favorable breeding and growing conditions for many insect pests.

Dr. James Jarratt, Mississippi State University extension entomologist, said typical Mississippi winters don't do widespread harm to insect populations.

May 12, 1997 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Environment, Fisheries

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Keeping a good, productive pond is a constant battle against natural processes that keep habitats in an ever-changing state.

"All ponds and lakes are born to die," said Dr. Marty Brunson, Mississippi State University extension wildlife and fisheries specialist. "If given enough time without intervention, they fill up with silt, become shallow, then turn into a bog, marsh and finally dry land."

May 12, 1997 - Filed Under: Weed Control for Crops, Weed Control for Forages, Environment

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A common sight around the state is a piece of farm equipment or an old out-building barely visible under a covering of kudzu.

Because it spreads rapidly, people fight an uphill battle to control the vine. But new studies have found that goats, with their tendency to eat anything green, may help destroy this weed.

May 12, 1997 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Vegetable Gardens

By Allison Powe

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Spring fever often comes to Southerners in the form of mouth-watering anticipation for fresh home-grown vegetables, but garden diseases can quickly spoil appetites.

Maintaining healthy vegetables in home gardens requires continuous efforts to care for the plants throughout the growing season. This year's cool, wet weather may make the task more difficult.

"This spring's weather conditions have made disease control very important," said Dr. Frank Killebrew, extension plant pathologist at Mississippi State University.

May 12, 1997 - Filed Under: Environment, Urban and Community Forestry

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Battling nature and people, trees that endure are genetically strong and environmentally lucky.

"Fire, lightning, construction projects, disease and insects are some of the main obstacles a tree must overcome to achieve a long life," said Dr. Andy Ezell, extension forestry specialist at Mississippi State University.

Recent storms packing high wind gusts have taken their toll on long-standing trees across the state.

May 12, 1997 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Family, Children and Parenting

VERONA -- If Old MacDonald had a pizza farm, he'd grow more than pigs and cows. More than 800 third graders recently learned the many sources of pizza products -- from the box to the herbs.

Today's children have fewer opportunities to see animals and crops growing on farms and so are less aware of the sources of many products.

The Mississippi State University Extension Service organized the Pizza Farm Field Days at the Lee County Agri-Center in Verona to educate children on the importance of farmers and agriculture to produce kid's all-time favorite food -- pizza.

May 12, 1997 - Filed Under: Family

By Allison Powe

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Southerners are accustomed to warm weather, so when spring arrives, many people are eager to replace sweaters and coats with short sleeves and swimsuits.

Stephanie Wayne, extension apparel and textile clothing assistant at Mississippi State University, reminds Mississippians to store winter clothes properly to ensure that they maintain good quality and are ready to wear when the next fall arrives.

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