News From 2021
I like to close every year with a look back at plants that were some of the solid performers and those that were surprises in my landscape and garden. I’ve shared most, if not all, of these plant observations with the Southern Gardening Nation in the hope that my experience gives you some great choices for your home landscape.
High commodity prices in 2021 pushed Mississippi agriculture to a sharp increase in total value -- a record estimated $8.33 billion -- despite a huge decline in government assistance aimed at coronavirus relief. Agriculture’s estimated value is up 19% from 2020.
Excellent commodity prices propelled Mississippi agriculture to its highest level: an estimated $8.33 billion value in 2021. This figure is a 19% increase over 2020. Poultry, soybeans and forestry continue to rank first, second and third, respectively, in the state’s agricultural economy.
Strong consumer demand for chicken is one part of the equation that added up to a nearly 40% increase in production value for Mississippi’s poultry industry in 2021. The commodity held on to the No. 1 spot among all the state’s agricultural commodities, totaling an estimated value of $2.65 billion. 2021 marks the 27th consecutive year poultry has topped Mississippi’s value of production list. Final figures will be released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in April. Higher prices also influenced this year’s value of production.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- An improved price environment for soybeans pushed the crop’s value of production to near record highs in Mississippi in 2021.
Soybean production grew about 25% from $1.2 billion in 2020 to $1.49 billion this year. It is Mississippi’s second largest agricultural commodity for the second straight year and by far the state’s most valuable row crop.
Will Maples, a row crops economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, estimated soybean prices to be up around 20% from 2020.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Forestry is the third largest agricultural commodity in Mississippi for the second straight year with a production value of nearly $1.29 billion in 2021, up 5.7% over last year.
Besides this being the multiple holiday season with Christmas and then New Year’s back-to-back, it’s also the time when many gardeners start planning their landscapes and plantings for the coming year. One of my favorite things to do in past years was to gather all the seed catalogs and start dreaming.
A new online platform can help farmers learn about and implement management practices to improve profitability, soil health and land stewardship. Created by a multistate team of university Extension professionals and farmers, One Good Idea provides farmers across the U.S. an online classroom to learn through videos and podcasts. Topics include cover crops, conservation tillage, rotational grazing and nutrient management.
We’re in the season when social media is lit up with gorgeous images of flowering shrubs. The sasanqua camellias are particularly beautiful this fall, and how about the reblooming azaleas like Encore and newer Perfecto Mundo from Proven Winners?
This is one of my favorite seasons -- but aren’t they all? -- for enjoying my membership in the horticulture community. Last week, Mississippi State University hosted the first of what we hope will be an annual Poinsettia Open House at the South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station in Poplarville.
The Mississippi State University Extension Service Head Start program is hiring for various positions in Harrison County. Head Start needs qualified candidates to fill positions including lead teachers, assistant teachers, a project coordinator, an educational leader, a floater, an administrative assistant, an office associate, an assistant cook and a custodian.
A grant from Coast Electric will allow for a renovation of the Mississippi State University Crosby Arboretum’s pollinator garden. Pat Drackett, director of the arboretum, said the pollinator garden was established in 2001 as the Explorers’ Garden. It is a 3,000-square-foot space with a variety of native and other plants that helps teach visitors how to create havens for pollinators.
Researchers at Mississippi State University looking at how to successfully use cover crops in corn production systems must develop strategies to overcome challenges unique to this row crop. Cover crops are plants grown outside of the normal cropping season mainly for conservation purposes.
Even though I still have tomatoes and peppers producing in my home garden, I know these summer vegetables are on borrowed time. While I like being able to harvest tomatoes on Thanksgiving, it’s the time of year to appreciate the great cool-season vegetables we can grow.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Each year in Mississippi, thousands of hunters spend time in the woods hoping to see and harvest a buck. Last year, hunters in the Magnolia State harvested about 122,000 bucks, producing venison for the table and antlers to admire for a lifetime.
Even without having to worry about hunters, however, life for a buck is no cakewalk.
DREW, Miss. -- The small Delta town of Drew in the heart of Sunflower County has created a private, public and academic partnership to fight food insecurity.
For its efforts, the town recently received a big new honor, along with funding to advance ongoing health equity improvements. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) last month awarded Drew and nine other communities the 2020–2021 Culture of Health Prize, along with $25,000.
This Thanksgiving week, I’m recovering from a particularly nasty infection in my leg. I’m not looking for sympathy, but it has given me the opportunity to think about what I’m thankful for in the garden and landscape.
This past weekend, the weather was glorious on the Coast, and I hobbled through my garden, which I hadn’t seen for a week.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- A team led by a Mississippi State University unit has been recognized on the national level for its contributions to race relations.
The Coming Together for Racial Understanding (CTRU) project received the 2021 National Diversity in Extension Award from the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, Cooperative Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Good times and good food lead to unwanted holiday weight gain for many people, but the year can end on a positive note when a few guidelines are followed.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The Mississippi State University Extension Service is modifying its administrative structure to commit more resources for county level staffing.
Upon Steve Martin’s return to his primary role as MSU Extension associate director Nov. 16, his title changed to Associate Director for County Operations.
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