MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The fight against a costly virus affecting the state's billion dollar poultry industry recently got a boost when researchers improved the testing procedure.
Dr. Chinling Wang, a researcher with Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, has found a way to shorten the time needed to run the RT-PCR (reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction) test. This test accurately and now quickly detects and identifies infectious bronchitis virus in poultry.
CLEVELAND -- What is scientifically true about pesticide health risks and what is commonly believed are often at odds, a national expert on toxin exposure said recently.
Dr. Ronald E. Gots, managing principal of the International Center of Toxicology and Medicine in Rockville, Md., has been involved in toxic exposure cases since 1975. He spoke on this topic at the 1997 Delta Production Conference and Ag Expo.
"Pesticides stir passions, and often passion and reality differ," Gots said. "Pesticides can be dangerous, but they also can be used safely."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Sweaty palms and cold feet sometimes indicate a reassuring hug is needed, but for other couples, it means it's time to kiss the fiance' goodbye.
Dr. Louise Davis, Mississippi State University extension child and family development specialist, said few couples survive the entire wedding process without at least one member getting a case of the nerves. While not unusual, couples must determine if this is simply jitters or a hint that something is wrong.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Prospective grooms no longer have to climb ladders to their sweethearts' windows late at night and race with them across state lines to elope.
Instead, these nontraditional weddings often are announced and held with the full blessing of everyone involved. Many times they are planned far in advance with arrangements made as carefully as in a typical wedding.
Eloping has gained popularity in American culture as a hassle- free, less-expensive way to tie the knot. Many couples --and their families -- are seeing elopement as an attractive alternative.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Marrying "back home" is not possible for many engaged couples, while others look at their options and leave town for the wedding.
In 1996, 65,000 couples married away from home, according to Modern Bride magazine findings. Some chose to marry in exotic locations, while others married in the town they were currently living, but not their hometown.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Many newlyweds find themselves gaining weight after the wedding when efforts to please their new spouse overrule their better judgment at the table.
"Trying to please each other, either by cooking a lot or by eating all that is set before them, often results in weight gain," said Dr. Melissa Mixon, extension human nutrition specialist at Mississippi State University. "It is important that couples be aware that can happen."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The cold weather of the winter months can cause anxiety about the costs of keeping warm, but simple efforts to maintain a home can cut down on heating expenses.
Dr. Frances Graham, extension housing specialist at Mississippi State University, said up to 33 percent of heat in homes is lost through uninsulated ceilings.
"Proper insulation is a key factor for minimizing heating bills during the winter. Insulation is important in the attic, next to the interior ceiling in the room, and in walls and floors," Graham said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- While many students complain that their instructors give them problems, at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, carefully designed problems are the basis of the curriculum.
A unique style of learning goes beyond typical classroom instruction and teaches students to become independent learners with problem-solving skills. The first two years of the four-year veterinary curriculum at MSU are founded on problem-based learning, or PBL.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Pecan growers are harvesting their best crop in three years this fall, but the yield is still only a fraction of what the state can produce.
With 50 percent of the harvest complete, growers expect to harvest 2.5 million pounds from Mississippi's 12,000 to 14,000 acres of pecan orchards.
Dr. Freddie Rasberry, Mississippi State University's extension horticulturist, said that is well more than double last year's yield of 1 million pounds, but well below the average of 5 million to 8 million pounds of pecans a year.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi Christmas trees have thrived under unusually good growing conditions this year, and the trees are ready to be harvested by spirited holiday enthusiasts.
Dr. Stephen Dicke, extension forestry specialist in Raymond, said Mississippi's trees have weathered well this year and are looking good. Growers are facing only a few problems, such as needlecast, in some areas of the state.
Starkville grower Jeffrey Krans said needlecast is a disease that causes needles to fall out and affects tree density.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's cotton growers haven't closed their books on the 1996 crop, but insects clearly will not be the negative factors they were last year.
Many growers' books went in the red during 1995's tobacco budworm invasion prompting Mississippi growers to plant about 28 percent fewer cotton acres in 1996.
Dr. Blake Layton, extension entomologist at Mississippi State University, said insect costs in the state's hill area will be about half the 1995 levels. Delta growers may be looking at two-thirds of last year's control costs.
STARKVILLE -- Despite an ideal growing season, most of Mississippi's traditional pumpkin producers will not be marketing their crop in 1996. The reduction doesn't stem from virus problems this year, but viruses in past years.
Dr. David Nagel, extension horticulturist at Mississippi State University, said growers have reduced the state's crop about 100 acres annually for the last several years. Most of this year's 375 acres are in smaller, noncommercial fields.
PRAIRIE -- Squirrels and woollyworms aren't the only ones preparing for winter. Cooler temperatures signal the conclusion of hay harvesting and of planting time for winter grasses for Mississippi's cattle.
Although beef prices could be and have been worse, many cattle producers plan to feed their herds until spring, when better prices are more likely.