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June 23, 1997 - Filed Under: Insects, Lawn and Garden, Insects-Pests

By Allison Powe

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Peaceful walks and relaxing fishing trips can be ruined with just one wrong step in a mound of hundreds of stinging fire ants.

Mississippi, as well as several other states in the Southeast, is home to this pest that infests lawns, pastures, gardens and occasionally houses. Fire ants are a nuisance, but there are some strategies for controlling the tiny beast.

Dr. James Jarratt, extension entomology specialist at Mississippi State University, said landowners can choose from a variety of control methods.

June 20, 1997 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Crops, Corn

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's corn is battling for decent yields as cool, wet weather hampers growth and triggers common rust disease throughout much of the state.

"Corn is in its critical pollination period which is the most sensitive time for any stresses," said Dr. Erick Larson, extension corn specialist at Mississippi State University. "The weather conditions since Memorial weekend have caused an unusually heavy outbreak of common rust in corn fields."

June 19, 1997 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

By Norman Winter
Horticulturist
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center

Gardeners are always asking me what they can plant for color in the shade. Many people overlook foliage plants like coleus, and the new varieties of coleus will amaze you.

With the advent of the SuperSun coleus, we have varieties that will work right out in the middle of a pasture. Texas A & M has been evaluating coleus for full sun conditions in scorching hot cities like El Paso, Houston, Amarillo and Dallas/Fort Worth.

June 13, 1997 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Crops, Cotton

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cool, rainy days have delayed cotton growth, but not boll weevils. Cotton's No. 1 enemy is emerging from overwintering and searching for cotton squares.

"Even though boll weevil numbers are high, I'm not as concerned about them as I am about the crop as a whole," said Mike Williams, extension entomologist at Mississippi State University. "The insects don't even want the cotton at this point."

Spring conditions have delayed the cotton's growth by at least two weeks in most areas of the state.

June 12, 1997 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

By Norman Winter
Horticulturist
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center

Heirloom plants are making huge comebacks for gardeners everywhere, particularly in the South.

One heirloom plant regaining attention is the Vitex agnus-cactus, or the Lilac Chaste tree. They are for sale at many nurseries, but you probably don't recognize this member of the verbena family.

The gorgeous, lilac-blue flowers are fragrant and produce over a long period during the summer. Even the leaves release a spicy odor when crushed.

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 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 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."

June 5, 1997 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

By Norman Winter
Horticulturist
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center

Weeds by any other name often do smell as sweet. The name "weed" conjures up thoughts of nutgrass, Johnson grass, crabgrass and dandelions. Weeds we love to hate.

Butterfly weed and Joe Pye weed are at least two instances where taxonomists or botanists gave plants names that turn off gardeners, but butterflies (and many gardeners) love these two Mississippi natives.

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 29, 1997 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens, Landscape Architecture

By Norman Winter
Horticulturist
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center

California is home to two of the most beautiful trees in the world, the redwood and the giant sequoia. If you have ever seen them, you were probably like me and just stood there in awe.

More than likely you returned to Mississippi wishing you could grow such spectacular trees. You can. Both the redwood and sequoia are in the redwood family.

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 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 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 22, 1997 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

By Norman Winter
Horticulturist
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center

Some of our best summer color can be grown in the shade or partially shady areas.

Impatiens are impressive with their vibrant colors that can yield tremendous floral displays in the fall if watered thoroughly throughout the summer. The plants need a well-drained, organic amended bed. Space plants 15 to 20 inches apart depending on the variety.

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 15, 1997 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

By Norman Winter
Horticulturist
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center

Many of the tropical plants grown in the beautiful Caribbean islands are for sale at your local garden center and nursery. With careful thought and planning, you can create your own little garden of paradise.

Thanks to 250 plus days between freezing temperatures, and more than 50 inches of annual rainfall, Mississippi is a great place to create a mini Montego Bay in the landscape.

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