Feature Story from 1999
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Depressed markets and the summer drought may discourage row-crop farmers, but Mississippi's emerging sod industry glistens as one bright spot in this year's agricultural picture.
Dr. David Nagel, horticulturist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said almost all of Mississippi's 45 sod growers have already sold out of their crop. The good news for those who haven't sold their crop is that failure to sell this year's crop should result in a better quality grass next year.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi home thermostats have some major adjustments ahead as the record high temperatures of summer are replaced by a nip in the air.
Dr. Frances Graham, housing specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said many Mississippians are not accustomed to cold weather and may be tempted to run heaters more than necessary. Cutting the thermostat down to 68 degrees, at least at night, can be the first step in reducing heating costs.
Graham suggested several other ways to keep heating bills at a minimum.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Halloween festivities designed to provide fun for children can be scary events for pets.
Dr. Cory Langston, service chief for the community practice at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, said Halloween activities can make otherwise mild-mannered dogs turn aggressive. When making a to-do list of Halloween preparations, don't forget to make allowances for pets.
"Dogs are easily agitated by changing circumstances," Langston said. "Some are simply frightened, but others become aggressive in certain situations."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Halloween is supposed to be a fun time for kids to dress up and collect bags of candy, but the night can bring more danger to youth than an upset stomach.
When parents think of dangers, they often think of candy that has been poisoned or tampered with, and dark streets filled with strangers. But other more common dangers haunt kids.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Despite drought and low expectations, state growers are expecting a good pecan crop this year.
Dr. Freddie Rasberry, pecan specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, estimated the state will have 3.5 million to 4 million pounds of pecans. Mississippi produced less than 1 million pounds last year.
By Jana Foust,
Southern Rural Development Center
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- As the 21st century approaches, the workforce in the rural South will be polarized by high-paying, secure jobs that require high levels of education and low-paying, part-time positions that require little or no training.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Fall brings a deadly risk to pets as many drivers prepare their cars for cooler temperatures by changing the engine's coolant.
Standard antifreeze is deadly to humans and animals. A substance in the antifreeze causes kidney failure when the body converts it to a crystal that stops kidney function.
Dr. Cory Langston, service chief for Community Practice at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, said as little as a teaspoon of antifreeze can kill a dog or cat.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Farmers are kicking the dust off their shoes from drought-challenged crops and turning their attention to planting the 1999-2000 wheat crop.
Dr. Erick Larson, agronomy specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said winter wheat offers producers an opportunity to generate income before next summer's crops go to market.
"Many growers were extremely pleased with last year's record crop and indicated they may increase wheat acreage this year," Larson said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Add pine trees to the list of Mississippi agricultural products hurt by drought conditions that triggered increased bark beetle attacks on the state's second most valuable crop.
Dr. Glenn Hughes, area forestry specialist in Ellisville with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the potential damage statewide to forest landowners' and homeowners' trees is significant. A mild winter could increase the threat in 2000.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Bagging a trophy buck requires patience and a careful shot, but it also usually means someone managed the deer herd so the buck was out there to harvest.
Every deer that is harvested impacts the rest of the herd. Careful management can ensure deer herds stay healthy and desirable bucks are available for future hunting. Herds are unhealthy if there are disproportionate numbers of does or young bucks.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi landowners have continued to harvest trees while some segments of the timber market lag behind others.
Dr. Bob Daniels, forestry specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said timber markets through the summer of 1999 indicate that timber is being harvested at about the same levels as last year, but prices have been generally lower. Pine sawtimber prices have been the bright spot this year. Those prices have held even with 1998's average, but other prices have dropped.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi cattle producers are joining a nationwide effort to improve the quality and safety of beef.
In 1987, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association launched the Beef Quality Assurance program, designed to ensure a safe food supply and a good eating experience for every beef consumer.
Dr. Fred Lehman, veterinarian with Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, said the program goes beyond the efforts at the feedlots.
By Laura Martin
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Land, water and wildlife mean as much to today's Choctaw tribe as they did to its ancestors. The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians has teamed with Mississippi State University to study fisheries resources, solid waste disposal and tribal perceptions.
Because the tribe is self-governed, it is responsible for maintaining its own environmental standards, including water quality and waste management. In the past, the tribe has depended on state and federal agencies for environmental monitoring.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Thirty-seven Mississippians are still in their ag-related occupations through efforts of the Mississippi AgrAbility Project which prevented a disability from keeping them from their work.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Low yields and difficult harvest conditions have most Southeast peanut growers ready to put 1999 behind them.
Mississippi and other peanut-producing states suffered a bad year as the heat and drought dropped peanut yields and grade well below state averages. Mississippi quota peanuts bring prices close to Alabama prices, which last year were about $550 a ton.
Steve Cummings, Yalobusha County agent with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said his part of the state harvested only about 2,000 pounds per acre.
By Laura Martin
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Engaged couples planning year-end weddings can take advantage of decorated churches and family reunions for their special day.
Anne Stevenson, a home economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said people planning a holiday wedding can wait and let the church or cathedral decorate and then add a few accessories to it.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Family members need to share holiday chores to minimize the stress on any individual during the hectic season.
Dr. Louise Davis, child and family development specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the holidays can be overwhelming if one person assumes all the responsibility for the many details needing attention.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Holiday hunters following all the safety rules still need to listen to their bodies to ensure the experience will be a safe one.
Non-shooting accidents are common in the woods as hunters flock there for their favorite game. Deer stands cause the most injuries, but the physical demands of the hunt can mean out-of-shape hunters can hurt themselves if they're not careful.
By Laura Martin
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- When the holiday scents of cinnamon, peppermint and fresh cookies fill the home, friends and families gather around the Christmas tree as one of the seasonal traditions.
Displaying a real Christmas tree is a traditional holiday practice in many homes.
Dr. Steve Dicke, a forestry specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the enjoyment of the family cutting a tree and decorating it at home every year is part of a great Christmas tradition.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Low income people in 22 Mississippi counties can learn how to make grocery dollars last longer and improve their health from wiser food choices with the help of an expanding nutrition education program.
The Family Nutrition Program is an educational effort being conducted by Mississippi State University's Extension Service with assistance from matching funds by the state Department of Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service.