MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi cotton growers are keenly aware of insect control every year because it is one of their most costly issues, but after this year's mild winter, they are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.
The Mid-South region has the highest costs to produce cotton. To be competitive with state's that have eradicated boll weevils, Mississippi needs 3 to 5 cents per pound more at the market. The 1997-98 winter was one of Mississippi's mildest winters in 20 years, which is a major concern for 1998 boll weevil control.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Planting a garden may seem as simple as tossing seeds on the soil, but deciding what to plant in the garden takes careful planning.
Dr. David Nagel, horticulturist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said gardeners need to consider their personal preference for vegetables, how the produce will be used, the amount of available garden space and the amount of sunlight needed.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi State University is heading a new statewide economic development effort to be kicked off at an April conference in Jackson.
The Agricultural Economic Summit on April 21 and 22 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Jackson will focus on growing the Mississippi economy through agriculture, forestry and community development. The summit will feature several industry leaders addressing issues important to the state. Follow-up meetings around the state will identify goals and areas for improvement during the five-year endeavor.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Dairy herds in Mississippi put up some good numbers in 1997, with dairy cows having the second highest increase in milk in the Southeast.
Mississippi dairy cows produced 587 pounds of milk more than last year, bringing the average to 13,489 pounds per cow. This was the greatest increase seen in milk production in any other state in the Southeast except North Carolina. At about $14.50 per hundredweight, the milk increase brought additional income of $85 per cow to dairy farmers, or $3.7 million for the state.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi cotton growers are expected to plant less than 1 million acres for the second consecutive year -- a trend that could hurt cotton's support industries in the state.
"We have significant concerns about cotton's infrastructure as acres are converted to crops that generate less economic activity," said Dr. O.A. Cleveland, agricultural economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service. "Cotton is a high cost crop with a large support industry surrounding it."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Some Mississippi wheat fields experienced minimal damage from the freezing temperatures the second week of March, but for a few, the damage was beyond recovery.
"Severe damage has been found from as far south as Natchez to throughout North Mississippi," said Dr. Erick Larson, agronomist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service. "Growers need to closely inspect their fields to evaluate the extent of the freeze injury."
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Most cities in Mississippi do not have a cattle auction barn, but that doesn't mean cows can't be bought and sold in every town.
CyberStockyard, a joint venture of Scott Sanders, his father, David, and Scott Calhoun, all of Starkville, is the first interactive livestock auction available on the Internet. Although some services offer online purchasing for livestock producers, this site allows buyers to view cattle and bid in the auction without traveling to the actual sale location.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Spring is an opportune time for thorough cleanings and home maintenance that could prevent costly repairs later.
El Nino can even get the blame this year for a dirty house. The wet winter has likely left enough soil on carpets to justify a thorough spring cleaning. Changes in the seasons always offer a good chance to clean closets and discard old clothes.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- "Putting it on plastic" has become second nature to many American buyers, but not reading the fine print has gotten a lot of them in trouble.
Dr. Beverly Howell, family economics specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said consumers are responsible for the credit choices they make and should always be cautious with their decisions.
"The responsibility lies with the consumer to use credit to their best advantage," Howell said. "Sometimes that means not using credit cards at all."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- One of the last things college students look for is more work and responsibilities, but some at Mississippi State University do just that, and call it rewarding.
Each semester, students from MSU's dietetic internship program volunteer an hour a week at Crossroads International Friendship House in Starkville to teach cooking and nutrition to spouses of international students. Jessica Partridge, now a registered clinical dietitian at Arlington Memorial Hospital in Texas, was the first volunteer.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Idle land does not benefit the owners, the community or the state, but recent forestry programs taught African-Americans how to profit from better management of their underused timberland.
An idea that originated with the Marion County Forestry Association resulted in programs that reached almost 300 minority landowners in three counties: Marion, Jefferson Davis and Walthall.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Not only do consumers want bacon with their eggs, they want the hog farms raising the bacon to be environmentally good neighbors.
Poorly operated hog farms can raise a stink, but odor can be managed. A voluntary, new program offered by a cooperation of leading pork producers' organizations can help producers serious about having environmentally friendly farms. The On-Farm Odor Assistance Program, sponsored by the National Pork Producers Council in association with the National Pork Board and PORK '98 magazine, will kick-off in March.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Planning a balanced vegetarian diet requires substituting foods that provide needed nutrients for those foods they eliminate.
Vegetarians are usually stereotyped as people who do not eat red meat, fish or poultry. There are, however, several different kinds of vegetarians.
"A lacto-ovo-vegetarian's eating pattern is based on vegetables, fruits, grains, eggs and dairy products," said Dr. Barbara McLaurin, human nutrition specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- If preparing meals for a picky child means extra time in the kitchen, arguments and frustration, consider offering a variety of foods at meal time to please every eater.
"Every picky eater has different habits, so it is difficult to define the term," said Dr. Melissa Mixon, human nutrition specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service. "Picky eaters are identified, however, as people who refuse to eat a particular food or group of foods."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- No-till cotton farming has gained in popularity in recent years as farmers are learning it can be a successful practice when managed correctly.
Dr. Jac Varco, agronomist with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, said no-tillage cotton increased from 1,183 acres in 1989 to 52,146 acres in 1997. Starting with the 1985 Farm Bill, farmers are required to put highly erodible land in either the Conservation Reserve Program or use conservation practices on that land.
JACKSON -- Generous buyers rewarded exhibitors of 33 champion market animals with another record-setting sale following the recent Dixie National Junior Livestock Show.
Dr. Joe Baker, animal specialist with Mississippi State University' Extension Service, said the 1998 Dixie National Sale of Junior Champions netted $185,654. The previous record was set last year at $161,431.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Choice is usually a good thing, but sometimes a person doesn't have the time or information to make the right decision, whether it be choosing a flavor of ice cream or the best weed-control method.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- If the ground is so muddy gardeners don't want to put their hands in it, they shouldn't put their shovels in it either.
Dr. David Nagel, horticulturist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said wet ground is seriously damaged when it is worked.
"Anytime you can squeeze water out of the soil, it is too wet to work with," Nagel said. "If you step on soil and water comes around your shoes or you can rub soil between your thumb and forefinger and make a ribbon that holds together, you probably need to wait before you start gardening.