Feature Story from 2004
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Soybean prices are the highest they've been in years, rice and corn are looking good, and cotton has improved, giving Mississippi farmers much to consider as they decide what to plant this year.
Charlie Forrest, professor of agricultural economics with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said nationwide soybean production was down last year while demand stayed strong.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Beef may be "what's for dinner," but that's because producers growing cattle are putting a good product on the market for consumers to enjoy.
Mississippi's beef cattle had a production value of about $190 million in 2003, and most of this is from small operations. To support this industry in the state, the Mississippi State University Extension Service created an educational certification program for beef cattle producers and veterinarians.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi Delta native Dr. Bob Watson, co-owner of the Brookhaven Animal Hospital, recently received the young veterinarian of the year award from his professional statewide association.
The Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association presented Watson with the award at the annual winter meeting held at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. A native of Cleveland, Watson received a bachelor's degree in biology from Delta State University in 1989. He received his doctorate in veterinary medicine from MSU in 1994.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The late Dr. Richard Griffin received the Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association's top honor during their recent winter meeting in Starkville.
Griffin, who practiced in Greenville for more than two decades, died in May 2003 at age 48 from injuries he received in a traffic accident as he was driving to Leland to treat a sick animal. MVMA named him their veterinarian of the year for his outstanding service in the field of veterinary medicine.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- "Gentlemen, start your engines." These four words that provide NASCAR fans with an adrenaline rush should also invoke caution flags for Mississippians driving in rural areas where tractors are taking to the fields.
Herb Willcutt, safety specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said all drivers share responsibility for safe travel on the state's highways.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- An April 27 workshop will offer half a day of classroom instruction and an afternoon of hands-on instructional work for interested pecan growers.
The Mississippi-Louisiana Pecan Growers Meeting is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station in Crystal Springs. It is sponsored by the Mississippi State University Extension Service, the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and Louisiana State University. There is no cost to attend.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Farmers are looking to reduce their 2004 fuel costs by adopting agricultural strategies including new herbicides, transgenic cotton and reduced tillage methods.
Will McCarty, state program leader for agriculture and natural resources with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said many farmers are using management and technology in place of labor and machinery. One area that benefits greatly is the reduction in fuel needs.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The cost of fertilizer and strong market prices are inspiring Mississippi growers to increase their soybean acreage in 2004.
Robert Martin, Sharkey and Issaquena county director for Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said growers see more potential in soybeans this year than they have in past years.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Most of Mississippi's wheat crop is nearly ready to start flowering, and until it does, many producers are wondering if they will have a good harvest or not.
Erick Larson, grains agronomist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the crop is on time and looking good except for one thing.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Current dry weather makes burning debris a potentially lethal hazard, especially coupled with windy conditions that help spread fire at an alarming rate.
"The southern part of the state is particularly dry, so people should avoid burning debris at all," said Glenn Hughes, a forestry specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. "The fuel is there and ready to go up -- if a spark gets away from you, the wind can move it very quickly."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- There's an epidemic across the nation that can't be stopped with any type of medication. Obesity, especially in children, is reaching alarming proportions in the United States and Mississippi has the highest per capita number of overweight children.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Big business and families don't often go hand-in-hand, but they do when it comes to the Mississippi poultry industry.
"For nine consecutive years, poultry has been the No. 1 commodity in Mississippi, with 2003 sales of poultry and poultry products topping $1.5 billion," said Wallace Morgan, head of Mississippi State University's Department of Poultry Science. "There are about 3,000 farms producing poultry in the state, most of which are family-run farms with four to six poultry houses, with each house producing about 140,000 birds every year."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Saccharine-sweet pastels are out, but fun, feminine styles are all the rage this summer in the fashion world.
Instead of cotton-candy pink, this summer's styles will feature more toned-down colors. But that doesn't mean bright colors are a thing of the past -- they still have their place in most wardrobes.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Flowers and "for sale" signs are popping up in yards across the state, a sure sign that spring has indeed arrived.
It seems no one wants to move in the cold of winter, so spring is the perfect time to put a house on the market. Owners can move to a new location over the summer, and have things back to normal when the kids start school in the fall.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cotton is an expensive crop to grow, but experts warn that planting fewer seeds per acre is not the way to reduce costs.
As with most crops, cotton varieties have been modified to develop or enhance desirable traits. Depending on the technology, fees to cover the research and development can account for two-thirds of the total cost of seed, or as much as a few hundred dollars per bag of seed.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Corn growers may see a fourth consecutive year of record or near-record yields after spring weather conditions allowed them to plant early or on time for a change.
If they succeed in producing another record, they should have an added benefit of stronger prices expected during an August harvest. December corn futures prices are running near $3.20 per bushel compared to $2.40 at this time last year.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Many people view mowing the grass as an unpleasant chore for the kids, but experts caution there are significant safety and maintenance issues involved.
Herb Willcutt, agricultural engineer and safety specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the biggest danger in any type of mowing situation is thrown objects. These can harm people, structures and automobiles.
By Tricia Hopper
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Blue ribbons proudly displayed in April encourage everyone to do their part to prevent child abuse.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- First strawberries then blueberries are ripening to provide Mississippians with locally grown, flavorful fruits for nutritious early summer dishes and snacks.
In Mississippi, strawberry harvest started in April and blueberries follow in early May. South Mississippi strawberry grower David Courtney said he is expecting a good quality crop in the absence of insect damage and disease pressure. His irrigated crop likely benefitted from the spring drought that reduced diseases.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Half a lifetime is a long time to commit to anything, but a 4-H horse program volunteer believes the program's benefits to families make his time well spent.
"I've been involved with the 4-H horse program for 35 years, and I raised four children in the 4-H program. Now I have grandchildren in 4-H," said Bobby Crawford of Indianola. "It's a wonderful program. I've contributed time and effort for half my lifetime, and I've enjoyed it so much."
Crawford said it would be difficult to count the number of hours he spends helping out with the program.