MISSISSIPPI STATE -- How can Mississippi cotton growers harvest a record 900 pound average and not be enthusiastic about the crop?
1997 was the first year since 1983 that Mississippi cotton growers planted less than 1 million acres, and only the third time since record keeping began in 1866. Growers had governmental incentive to reduce acres in 1983 due to abundant supplies. In 1997, the incentives not to plant cotton came from market prices.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The forestry industry continued its record breaking pace in the state, setting its 10th record in 11 years with 1997's estimated value of $1.22 billion.
Dr. Bob Daniels, extension forestry specialist at Mississippi State University, projected a 3 percent increase over 1996's forestry value. Pine prices and production were up, while hardwood saw a slight price increase and harvest decrease.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- State poultry producers saw record broiler and egg production with 1997 values up 6 percent to more than $1.43 billion.
Dr. Wallace Morgan, head of Mississippi State University's poultry department, said the state's poultry industry has grown steadily for the last 10 years. Mississippi now ranks No. 4 nationally in broiler production.
"Domestic consumption continues to increase, our exports have been growing very rapidly and Mississippi has been a favored state for growth," Morgan said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's total value of production posted an new record of $4.9 billion, an increase of 3 percent from 1996. Casual observers might think a 3 percent change means little happened in Mississippi's 1997 farm economy.
"Several row crops had significant changes in their total value this year, but that was largely because of planted acreage changes," said Dr. John Robinson, extension agricultural economist at Mississippi State University.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- When families get together for the holidays, it's easy to forget the furry members of the group.
Dr. Richard Hopper, extension veterinarian at Mississippi State University, said the holidays can be traumatic for house pets. Decorations offer a wide range of potential dangers.
"Be prepared for odd behavior because sometimes guests in the house upset the pet," Hopper said. "Pets can become jealous and aggressive towards children, quit eating or have bad behavior such as soiling the carpet."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Home and auto burglaries can happen any time of the year, but seem more frequent and worse at the holidays.
Many otherwise cautious people get careless with security in the mad shopping rush. And when opportunities present themselves, some people steal from houses filled with gifts under trees and cars displaying the day's purchases.
Dr. Frances Graham, extension housing specialist at Mississippi State University, said people should be more cautious around the holidays.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cold winter weather may bring the need for extra layers of clothes, but it does not have to bring extra pounds.
The cooler temperatures and shorter days leave many people sitting inside, eating too much and exercising too little. People who allow the change of seasons to change their daily activities are at risk for gaining weight.
Linda Patterson, extension health and safety specialist at Mississippi State University, said winter weight gain can be a problem for people of all ages.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Clothing designers and manufacturers can benefit from a Mississippi State University professor's efforts to improve computer software programs.
Dr. Phyllis Bell Miller, assistant professor of human sciences, pioneered the art of apparel design on personal computers in the 1980s. Today, she's on the brink of major advancements that will make the programs even more diverse.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Years of hard work are about to pay off for Mississippi's 140 Christmas tree growers.
Unlike the state's annual crops, farmers have a long wait before reaping the harvest rewards. Six-foot trees take about four years to grow.
Dr. Steve Dicke, extension forestry specialist in Raymond, said the enormous effort involved in growing trees has reduced the number of Mississippi Christmas tree growers over the years. The state had 450 growers in 1985 when the industry was in its infancy.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- On winter evenings, few things can top the warmth of a wood heater, but these can turn dangerous if not installed and maintained properly.
Andy Sharp, a Starkville fire fighter and chimney sweeper, works both with preventing and putting out chimney fires. On average, Starkville has five to 10 chimney fires a year, he said.
"Very rarely does the house catch on fire, but nine times out of 10, the chimney is damaged by a chimney fire," Sharp said. "The chimney is not designed to have a fire, and a fire inside it can crack the inside and outside."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Some farmers still receive advice from their neighbors, but many are turning to certified crop advisors for help in making decisions that will impact their pocketbooks and protect the environment.
"Certified crop advisors take field management decisions up to a whole new level," said Dr. Larry Oldham, extension soils specialist at Mississippi State University. "CCA advice results from research-based training."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Youngsters planning to participate in the Mississippi junior livestock program in 1998 have some studying to do before the season begins in January.
Dr. Joe Baker, extension animal science specialist at Mississippi State University, said 4-H and FFA officials serving on an ethics task force committee decided in February 1997 to make the junior livestock program truly a program for the juniors.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cutting firewood can be a cost-effective way to warm homes in the winter, but never compromise safety in an attempt to cut home heating bills.
Dannie Reed, Choctaw County extension agent, said using chain saws is a hazardous and sometimes deadly activity. Chain saw accidents are a leading cause of emergency room visits, and some result in fatalities in Mississippi.
"Chain saws are probably the most dangerous of the portable power tools since it has more horsepower and exposed cutting blade than most anything else you can use," Reed said.