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Horticulture Research Grows At Poplarville
By Rebekah Ray
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Horticulture, the green industry, is one of the fastest growing areas of agriculture and includes fresh-cut flowers and foliage, potted flowering and foliage plants, bedding plants, perennials, annuals and bulbs, shrubs, trees, cut Christmas trees, seeds and other propagative materials.
Mississippi State University horticulturist Patricia Knight at the South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station in Poplarville received a federal grant to work jointly with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Small Fruits Research Center to expand ornamental research in South Mississippi.
Through this funding, scientists with Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Experiment Stations and the USDA will help solve problems that have hindered expansion of the ornamental industry.
The funding will also enable MAFES to add an urban horticulturist to address post-production ornamental concerns, a floriculturist to support the greenhouse industry and a plant physiologist to apply basic research to everyday problems.
"By adding new personnel and additional facilities and labs, we can develop the horticulture program and expand our applied research to help nurseries within the state," Knight said.
Plans for more sites and greenhouses to expand annual and perennial foliage research are also on the drawing board.
"The population across southern Mississippi is growing and nurseries are expanding. This grant will help broaden MAFES research to support the growing horticulture industry, which is centered in Lucedale," Knight said.
With the rapid growth across the Coast, research on landscaping materials is vital to preserve the environment.
MAFES horticulture research is located primarily at the South Mississippi Branch, which is a unit of the Coastal Research and Extension Center based in Biloxi.
Horticulture represents more than 10 percent of total U.S. crop cash receipts and is the third largest value crop in the country, behind corn and soybeans.