Feature Story from 1998
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A Mississippi 4-H program is doing what it can to ensure that a gun in the hands of a young person does not mean trouble.
Youth ages 8 to 18 enrolled in the Mississippi Field and Stream Program not only learn hunting, and wildlife and fisheries management, they also learn respect for guns and how and when to use them.
By Kelli McPhail
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Children want to have fun and parents often seem desperate to find a place for kids to stay during summer months. Working together may solve the problem.
Dr. Louise Davis, Mississippi State University Extension Service's child and family development specialist, said full-time care during the day might create the best environment for children.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Recent dry weather has been great for putting up winter hay, but it's slowed the growth of summer grasses and reduced its quality.
Dr. Bill Tucker, supervisor of the Mississippi State University dairy farm, said abnormal weather has made the first cutting of summer hay late this season.
"The weather has been hotter and drier than normal and our summer grasses have not come out as vigorously as they usually do," Tucker said.
Quality, as well as quantity, suffers as well when there is not enough moisture.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's cotton crop is off to a good start this year with boll weevil treatments set to begin in early June.
Dr. Blake Layton, entomologist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said cotton pin-head square applications should begin the first week of June in some places, but most of the crop will be treated the following week.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A test that predicts a rooster's fertility may one day dramatically impact the poultry industry.
Mississippi's poultry holds the state's top agriculture spot, with a current farm gate value of about $1.4 billion. Research in this field can propel the industry even higher.
Dr. Chris McDaniel, poultry scientist with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, has applied a simple fertility test to the poultry industry. His results indicate the industry could increase egg fertility rates by 5 percent.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Lowering weight limits on roads may not benefit taxpayers as much as it appears when it puts more log trucks on the road and causes timber prices to fall.
Mississippi law currently has set an 80,000 pound weight limit on roads. A harvest permit can be bought for $25 allowing a 4,000 pound tolerance above this limit. County supervisors can change the weight limit on county roads, and some are considering lowering it to 40,000 or 57,600 pounds.
By Kelli McPhail
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Shoes, purses, suits, dresses, hats, household linens and other historical memorabilia help students at Mississippi State University step back in time to study apparel design, textiles and merchandising.
The Historic Costume and Textile Collection in the MSU School of Human Sciences is the resource behind these history lessons. The collection, made up of over 1,000 items, ranges from the 1800s to the 1970s and links students to the study of Mississippi fashion.
By Kelli McPhail
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Pets are a vital part of many families, but creating an environment where animals and owners can live without fleas may take a little extra cleaning inside and outside the home.
Dr. Richard Hopper, a Mississippi State University Extension Service veterinarian, said fleas do not just live on animals, but they also live in the animal's environment.
"Fleas drop off where pets play, sleep and eat," Hopper said. "Keeping all areas of your house and yard clean is important to keep fleas from taking over."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's miles of waterways make boating one of the more popular summer pastimes, but without caution, boating can be dangerous.
In 1997, 20 people died in boating accidents. According to figures released by Elizabeth Raymond, boating law administrator for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, the state had 122 boating accidents last year. Of these, 52 involved personal water craft.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Recent hot temperatures have slowed milk production around the state, making it a little difficult for Mississippi dairy farmers to celebrate June Dairy Month.
Dr. Reuben Moore, dairy specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the ideal temperature for dairy cattle is 55 degrees. Recent temperatures in the 90s have stressed some herds.
"When temperatures reach about 85 degrees, milk production declines," Moore said. "If temperatures don't drop at night, cows have difficulty recovering from the day's high heat."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi wheat farmers weathered a late cold snap and rain at harvest time to produce a good wheat crop for the year.
Dr. Erick Larson, grain crop specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said average wheat yields across the state should be about 40 to 45 bushels per acre this year. Last year, farmers harvested an average of 42 bushels an acre.
"Wheat yields across the state have ranged from 25 to 90 bushels an acre, depending on the soil type and whether it was managed for optimum yields," Larson said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Guinea pigs, chinchillas, rats, mice, hamsters and gerbils are popular in pet stores, but taking home and caring for some of these animals can be difficult.
Dr. John Harkness, laboratory animal veterinarian at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, said packaged pet foods do not always meet pet rodents' dietary needs.
"Owners of small rodents, especially of guinea pigs, usually buy feed from the colorful and often overpriced array of boxes and bags available in retail pet stores," Harkness said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Livestock producers, especially those involved in swine, dairy, and poultry operations, are seeking answers from Mississippi State University researchers about the proper storage and use of animal waste as a soil nutrient.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- What works in a spray bottle to control insects on tomato plants in the back yard also works to control cotton's No. 1 pest when sprayed from an airplane.
Malathion is a very common insecticide used by cities to control mosquitoes, gardeners to control vegetable pests, homeowners to control cockroaches, farmers to control boll weevils and pet owners to control pet pests. Even the concentration is similar for each of these applications.
By Marcela Cartagena
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Despite France's 400 varieties of cheese which could confuse a mouse, thousands of consumers consider Mississippi State University's scarce variety of cheeses to be among the best.
"There are so many good cheeses available to consumers, but our cheeses rank among the best," said Dr. Charles White, head of MSU's Food Science and Technology Department. "Our cheese is made with high quality raw milk from university cows."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore handed state 4-H leaders a ceremonial check for $900,000 June 10 night, with the promise that the real money will follow shortly.
"I bring tonight your portion of a million dollars," Moore told the about 850 4-H youth, volunteers and staff at the close of 4-H Congress at Mississippi State University. "Your portion is $900,000 to help me get involved and save young people."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's unpredictable weather is keeping farmers guessing, and recent hail damage is forcing some growers to make their toughest decisions.
County agents and specialists with Mississippi State University's Extension Service have been busy across the state during this year's crop season. A cool, wet spring followed by the hotter and drier than normal months of May and June produced two sets of challenges, but recent hail storms may have dealt the hardest blows yet.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi watermelon growers may be frustrated with the drought that caused low numbers, but consumers are enjoying a sweeter taste from the 1998 crop.
Dr. David Nagel, horticulture specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the sunny days without rain resulted in smaller melons with more sugar.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- An 1880s and a 1920s cotton gin are the latest additions to agricultural engineering classes at Mississippi State University.
Joe Jim Hogan of Oxford donated the cotton gin stands to MSU's Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering in May. Both cotton gins were steam-powered. The older one could gin four to six bales of cotton a day, the newer one could gin eight in a day.
"I thought maybe the university could use it in some way to show people how the old gins were made," Hogan said.
By Kelli McPhail
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Keeping fresh flowers proves difficult, but drying flowers can be a creative and fun way to preserve flowers for decoration.
Dried flowers work well in bouquets, pressed flower pictures, potpourri, wreaths and as a wall decoration.
Norman Winter, a Mississippi State University Extension Service horticulturalist, said flowers like strawflower, baby's breath and cockscomb air dry easily.