Feature Story from 2002
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Less than two years after test results identified the first West Nile virus case in the state, two Mississippi laboratories are working hard to identify hot spots needing increased control efforts by the state Health Department.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- It was easy to see how above-ground crops suffered from back-to-back tropical storms, but those growing below ground took a less obvious beating.
Projections at mid-October were that the state lost at least 10 percent of its sweet potato crop from heavy rains in the middle of harvest. Mississippi has about 15,000 acres of sweet potatoes and typically harvests these from the second week of August until early November.
PASCAGOULA -- Professional loggers and anyone interested in logging have an opportunity to learn more about the industry through a Nov. 20 and 21 logger education program developed by Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
The two-day program consists of three classes. An introduction to sustainable forestry will begin at 8 a.m. on the first day, followed by a logger safety class at 2 p.m. A class on best management practices will begin at 8 a.m. on the second day. Classes will take place at the La Font Inn at 2703 Denny Ave. in Pascagoula.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A grant exceeding $1 million will enable researchers to study the extent food-safety pathogens exist in the poultry production process to determine the best point to concentrate treatment efforts.
By John Hawkins
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Specialists met in Starkville recently to study a subject that most people would find rather questionable: how to raise and keep insects alive and well.
"Growing quality insects is crucial to many areas of entomology and integrated pest management," said Frank Davis, Mississippi State University emeritus adjunct professor of entomology and workshop coordinator.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Growers of freshwater prawns, one of the state's smaller and newer crops, wrapped up harvest in early October with what appears to be profitable yields.
Mississippi has at least 1,000 water acres in commercial prawn production in the state. There is no state yield estimate, but Lou D'Abramo, professor with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, said several growers reported yields of 800 to 1,000 pounds an acre.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Top quality beef cattle will move through the auction ring Nov. 21 as Mississippi State University releases more than 100 surplus cattle and 26 horses to the highest bidders.
MSU and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station will host the 20th annual Production Sale at the Mississippi Horse Park, AgriCenter and Fairgrounds, which is located on Poorhouse Road south of Starkville. Lunch will be served at noon, and the sale will begin at 1 p.m. Cattle can be viewed beginning Wednesday afternoon and continuing until the time of the sale.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Handling food safely is a science, and those preparing food should make sure they have the tools needed to do it right.
Melissa Mixon, human nutrition specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said bacteria can grow rapidly when food is between 40 and 140 degrees. Perishable foods in this temperature zone have a two-hour window in which they are safe.
"The rule of thumb is that anytime a food has been in that temperature zone for two hours or more, don't eat it," Mixon said.
By Charmain Tan Courcelle
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station researchers are determining whether fungi are responsible for some of the seedling diseases and low grain yields seen in Mississippi.
Larry Trevathan, MAFES plant pathologist, is identifying fungal species common to corn production systems in Mississippi and looking for a link between fungal occurrence in the roots of this crop and subsequent seedling disease.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi pecan growers are harvesting a mixed bag this year as weather, diseases, insects and poor market prices leave little incentive for the harvest effort.
James Chiles of Clarksdale is president of the Mississippi Pecan Growers Association. He said growers in some parts of the state are reporting crop failures due in part to dry conditions near the end of July that caused trees to shed nuts. Insects and diseases also have been a problem in some orchards.
By Charmain Tan Courcelle
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Spatial technologies have provided producers and agribusinesses new methods to manage their crops, animals and land, but the same technologies have also presented a number of challenges, including how to manage the information generated.
Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station scientists are working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help growers face these problems.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Growing row crops, turf and ornamental plants is big business in the state, and supporting these industries through research and education is a high priority at Mississippi State University.
Because of Mississippi's climate and growing conditions, the state produces a wide variety of crops. Some of these, such as cotton, soybeans and rice, have a significant impact on the state's economy individually. Others crops, such as pecans, flowers and home garden vegetables, are smaller but still significant to the state when considered as a whole.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- State Christmas tree growers had an excellent growing season this year and have high hopes for a happy holiday.
Steve Dicke, Christmas tree specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the trees were able to use nearly all the heavy rains that came throughout the year.
"We hope it dries out sometime so the customers can get out in the fields and cut their own trees, but until harvest, we're not really concerned about it," Dicke said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Fruit and vegetable growers will converge on Biloxi Dec. 4 through 6 to learn the tricks of the trade to make them better producers in the future.
The Deep South Fruit and Vegetable Conference will take place at the convention center in the President Broadwater Towers Hotel on Beach Boulevard. Conference participants from Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi will attend with an expected crowd of 500 people.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Not enough Mississippians give blood to save the lives of people in need, but even fewer have committed to giving their organs and tissue to save someone's life after their own has passed.
The Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency is the federally designated organ procurement organization for most of the state. They report that more than 75,000 people nationwide need organ transplants, and 16 of these die each day waiting for the organ that will save their lives.
By John Hawkins
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Rural health care providers in Mississippi are getting assistance from a state program that emphasizes the economic importance of local health care.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- For all the hype about "right conditions" to yield the best fall foliage, the key to outstanding tree color is likely the species itself.
Mississippi trees often enter the fall after experiencing a dry season and that means relatively cloud-free days as well. These conditions typically bring vibrant colors. However, this year's weather situation has been drastically different after two tropical storms and days of overcast and rainy conditions.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Winter's chill sends people scurrying for the thermostats and space heaters to stay warm, but these comfort items can turn deadly if not operating properly.
Nearly every winter brings stories of individuals or families killed or sickened by overnight carbon monoxide poisoning in closed spaces. In these situations, even those who attempt to rescue them can become ill or die unless the area is ventilated before they enter.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- When another roasted turkey doesn't sound appetizing for Thanksgiving, many adventuresome cooks in recent years have turned to frying.
The goal is not a greasy dish similar to the Southern delicacy of breaded, fried chicken. This kind of frying is an outdoor venture that uses a large kettle of hot oil over an open flame to cook a whole turkey to a golden brown.
Melissa Mixon, food safety specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said frying works if the turkey is completely thawed and is not stuffed.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- As if farmers need one more thing to worry about after struggling to harvest much of the state's crops in wet conditions, they now need to be extra cautious when drying their grain in bins.
Herb Willcutt, safety specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said burners intended to dry grain in bins can cause fires when not maintained or used properly. He said Arkansas reported three bin fires in three weeks as farmers tried to dry their crops.