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.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi growers have most of their rice planted, but cold, wet conditions are hindering plants' development.
Dr. Joe Street, extension rice specialist in Stoneville, said farmers are beginning to get concerned.
Most Mississippi rice growers prefer to plant the Lemont variety, which needs to be planted by mid-May," Street said. "Later plantings could be adversely affected by cool fall weather and rains that could hamper harvest."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Soybean growers remain optimistic about the state's 1997 crop despite cool, rainy weather conditions that have been less than ideal for planting.
Dr. Alan Blaine, extension soybean specialist at Mississippi State University, said rain several weeks ago concerned growers, but after it stopped the ground dried so quickly that some farmers planted their first soybeans in dry soil.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's fight against brucellosis has been a long, hard struggle, yet despite many setbacks, the state's cattle industry continues to strive for a brucellosis-free status.
A bacterial disease that causes cows to miscarry their calves or become infertile, brucellosis can be contracted by horses, dogs, sheep, goats and swine. Humans also are susceptible to a form of brucellosis, commonly referred to as undulant fever, which causes persistent flu-like symptoms.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Many times at graduation, parents' tears are not from happiness that the child finally made it, but sadness that a chapter of life has closed.
High school graduation marks the transition from a child to an independent adult. Many graduates move away to college the following fall, and those who don't choose college often get a job and move out of the house soon afterwards.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Many people don't realize there is an art to mowing a yard, especially if the turf is to thrive and look good.
Dr. Mike Goatley, Mississippi State University associate professor/agronomist, said the type of grass determines its care. St. Augustine grasses need to be cut at 2 to 3 inches tall, centipede at 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches, and Bermuda and zoysia at 1 to 2 inches.
Although most lawns require mowing about once a week, Bermuda and St. Augustine varieties grow very fast and should be cut every three to four days, Goatley said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Corn is growing this year on fewer Mississippi acres than last year, but the crop appears to be off to a good start despite being planted slightly behind schedule.
Dr. Tom Jones, Mississippi State University extension agricultural economist, said state farmers planted 630,000 acres of corn in 1996 and expect to plant about 550,000 acres this year. Most corn planting should be complete by April 20.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- While eating apples each day is supposed to cut down on doctor visits, a more fun way to do the same thing is to own a pet.
Research has shown that people benefit in many ways from having a pet. Companion animals have more consistent behavior and give unconditional affection that humans rarely offer.
A survey conducted by the American Animal Hospital Association found that more than half the pet owners surveyed, if stranded on a deserted island, would choose the companionship of their pet over another human.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Ownership has its benefits, especially for pets.
Unwanted pets and stray animals often end up dead beside the road, or suffer from sickness and disease, said Dr. Roger Wilbur, a veterinarian at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. Some of these had owners who no longer want them, while others are descendants of strays.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Many animals have habits that neighbors, guests and owners don't appreciate, but a good, well-behaved pet usually can be traced to a good home.
A pet's personality and habits are shaped largely by what it is exposed to. Without the proper environment, an animal can become unhealthy and unhappy. Destructive behavior in pets can actually be avoided by placing pets in appropriate surroundings.
Pet owners should take precautions when preparing for a new pet.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- As cases of rabies in domestic animals are reported closer and closer each year to the Mississippi state line, officials are concerned the state might be running out of luck.
To address this potential problem for Mississippi's dog and cat populations, state Health Department officials and members of the Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association are joining forces to protect animals and people.
Vaccination clinics for cats and dogs will be held on four weekends at numerous sites around the state.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Pets are an invaluable part of many American families, but the key to this happy relationship is a proper matching of pets and owners.
About 45 percent of Mississippians own pets, according to a recent survey conducted for the Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association. Dr. Richard Hopper, extension leader of veterinary medicine at Mississippi State University, said many factors should be considered before commiting to care for an animal.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A projected soybean increase of 200,000 acres is pushing Mississippi's planted acreage up for 1997, despite drops in cotton and corn.
Mississippi is expected to plant 3.9 million acres in the state's top four crops -- soybeans, cotton, corn and rice -- compared to 3.76 million acres last year.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Planting Intentions Report, released March 31, revealed few surprises. Rice was the only other row crop expected to increase acreage in 1997, jumping 19 percent to 250,000 acres.