Feature Story from 2000
MEMPHIS -- Mississippi State University co-hosted a conference in late July that plans to brighten the outlook for agriculture in the Midsouth.
About 175 agricultural leaders from Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana gathered in Memphis to study the current situation and look ahead to what the future of agriculture may hold. Farmers, lenders and suppliers were joined by Extension Service professionals, agriculture specialists and researchers.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Heat has traditionally threatened Mississippi's catfish, but this year's hot temperatures have not been an issue as most producers are equipped for the challenge.
Algae in catfish ponds supply the oxygen catfish require during the day, but at night the catfish rely on aerators. With high temperatures, catfish require more oxygen in the water. July's near record nighttime temperatures meant catfish producers had to run aerators all night every night and even some cloudy days.
By Crystel Bailey
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippians are finding home-based businesses a successful trend if they include the right person, a marketable product or skill and helpful resources.
"Not just anyone can start a home-based business. There are three requirements a person must possess: an entrepreneurial spirit, family-support and good business skills," said Beth Duncan, Extension small business specialist at Mississippi State University.
By Crystel Bailey
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Internet users should not be fooled by false information on the World Wide Web and e-mail if they keep a few tips in mind.
Most people who use the Internet have probably come across scams or rumors when searching the Web or checking their e-mail. Some hoaxes have caused problems when people took them seriously.
MISSISSIPPI STATE --The tool that made the automobile an extension of the home and office is being threatened as several states consider laws limiting the use of cellular phones for safety reasons.
Some communities have banned the phones from vehicles entirely, while others have required the use of hands-free devices for the phones. Mississippi currently has no laws governing the use of cell phones in vehicles.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's dairy herd is bucking the national trend by reducing farm and cattle numbers while a national production increase is helping to hold prices down.
"We have a lot of milk available, so prices are not likely to improve much anytime soon," said Bill Herndon, agricultural economist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
Numbers of dairy cattle are up nationally, especially in western states such as Idaho, California and New Mexico. However, like most Southeastern states, Mississippi has significantly fewer farms and cattle.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- To call Mississippi summers hot is accurate, but they can also be dangerous as heat and humidity combine to create a deadly threat of heatstroke.
Mississippians saw record-breaking temperatures in July, and while August started cooler, more heat is in store. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Jackson saw five days in July where temperatures reached 100 degree or more, setting one new record and tying another.
JACKSON - Mississippi's Extension county agricultural agents asked for it, and they got one of the biggest conventions ever held in the capital city.
In 1996, Mississippi delegates to the annual meeting of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents competed against Kentucky for the opportunity to host the 2000 meeting in Jackson. About 1,450 members and their families attended this year's meeting Aug. 6 through 10.
By Suzanne Berry
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Modern technological advances have provided today's farmers with many tools to enhance productivity and perhaps their bottom line, but one tool that could be the most important decision-making aid is a budget.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Power outages from occasional thunderstorms can be more deadly to chickens than the 100-plus degree days that are par for the course during Mississippi summers.
Tom Smith, poultry specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the state had lost about 250,000 chickens in recent weeks, but the true culprit was not just the heat.
By Crystel Bailey
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippians hold yard sales every week, but those who plan, advertise and follow some general tips profit most.
"Mid-spring to mid-fall is the best time to have a yard sale because the weather is ideal for being outside. Plan yard sales for weekends, especially those at the first of the month, because more people plan to shop then and most people get their paychecks then," said Jan Lukens, consumer management consultant with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
By Crystel Bailey
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Forget air-conditioned malls and stores, and go to yard sales to find great bargains on clothes and other useful items.
Everlyn Johnson, apparel and textile program leader with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said yard sales are a good idea for buying children's clothing; seldom worn items, such as party clothes; and household goods, such as furniture for college students.
"Yard sales offer excellent prices on clothes. You can get them for a fraction of the retail cost," she said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Welfare reform has reduced the numbers on public assistance, but many now working live in poverty, with better access to programs and services being their best hope of improving their circumstances.
Michael Rupured, financial management specialist at the University of Georgia, authored a publication on "Promoting upward mobility for the working poor." It is part of a series published by the Southern Rural Development Center headquartered at Mississippi State University titled The Rural South: Preparing for the Challenges of the 21st Century.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Many of Mississippi's outdoor sportsmen and women count down the days until dove season arrives, but their judgement skills may need polishing more than their firearms as they begin the first of several major hunting seasons in the state.
Labor Day weekend dove shoots traditionally trigger the beginning of the fall hunting season. These shoots often take on a party atmosphere and can have deadly results for more than the birds.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- As if the drought isn't bad enough, Mississippi soybean farmers are now facing losses to several pests.
Pat Harris, entomology specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service in Decatur, said soybean fields have their normal populations of worms and stink bugs building up this fall in addition to the drought stress.
By Crystel Bailey
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Health officials still recommend that parents should continue to place babies on their backs even though some people worry this sleeping position will cause them to have flat heads.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- It will create a high water bill this summer, but watering the lawn weekly may be the only way to keep some landscape trees alive through Mississippi's drought.
Glenn Hughes, forestry specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service in Hattiesburg, said pine trees in South Mississippi are probably faring the worst this year. Drought damage, however, is statewide.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Forest fires raging out of control in the West give fire a bad name, but in non-drought times, Mississippi foresters use planned fires as management tools.
Glenn Hughes, forestry specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service in Hattiesburg, said fire historically has been a natural part of Southern pine forests.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Growers certainly would have liked better yields, but most of them know this year's growing conditions could have taken an even higher toll than they did.
"Corn yields are turning out pretty well in spite of the hot, dry conditions," said Erick Larson, corn specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service. "Most of the credit goes to early planting. It just depends on when the plants ran out of moisture."
Larson said many fields were able to get through the pollination stage by mid-June before Mother Nature turned against them.
By Chantel Lott
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Rice production is big business in Mississippi, and September has been set aside nationally to recognize this important food staple.
Last year, Mississippi farmers produced more than 18 million pounds of rice on 260,000 acres. The crop's value reached nearly $100 million.
Bolivar County is one of the state's largest rice producing counties. Each year Delta Rice Promotions holds a rice-tasting luncheon to celebrate September as National Rice Month.