Feature Story from 2012
MISSISSIPPI STATE – This month, some kids have visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads, and others dream of finding a new furry, four-legged family member under the tree.
Mississippi State University students and staff help some of these wishes come true through a program that gets family-friendly dogs to Northeastern states, but these volunteers have a Christmas wish of their own.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – An experienced administrator has been named the new head of Mississippi State University’s North Mississippi Research and Extension Center.
Steve Martin will assume his duties at the center’s Verona headquarters on Dec. 1. He currently serves as the director of the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, where he has been an administrator since 2008.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – A Mississippi State University professor recently won an award from the Entomological Society of America for his professional service to agricultural producers in the Southeast.
Angus Catchot, an Extension Service agronomic crops entomologist, was named the 2013 recipient of the Distinguished Achievement Award in Extension. Catchot was nominated by the society’s South Eastern Branch because of his noteworthy program creativity, impact, achievement and delivery of services.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Plants can increase a person’s productivity, and a Mississippi State University floral design expert is smiling about his new textbook on using plants in interior spaces.
Jim DelPrince, a professor in MSU’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, spent five years developing a textbook on “interiorscaping” -- using green and flowering plants and trees in indoor commercial and residential spaces.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Two soil tests conducted routinely help Mississippi producers ensure the productivity of their farmland.
Soil tests in the fall to determine fertility levels and nematode tests in the spring to detect harmful pests help producers improve soil quality before spring tillage and planting begin.
JACKSON -- No-till farming, strip-till farming, crop rotation and cover crops have grown in popularity as Mississippi farmers face the challenge of conserving nutrient-rich topsoil while improving their bottom lines.
“I estimate that around 20 percent of Mississippi farmers practice no-till farming. There are probably many more who use some degree of reduced tillage,” said Ernie Flint, an agronomist with Mississippi State University’s Extension Service with more than 40 years’ experience in the field.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Veterinarians often have a perspective on domestic violence situations that others would never consider.
Dr. Sharon Fooshee Grace, a clinical professor in Mississippi State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, frequently addresses the connection between animal cruelty and domestic violence. She recently spoke to veterinarians and law enforcement officials about the need to work together to protect human and animal lives.
HATTIESBURG – Blueberry producers and backyard fruit growers can learn about the newest threats to their crops at a workshop Jan. 17.
The Mississippi State University Extension Service is hosting the Emerging Insect and Disease Workshop from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Forrest County Extension office in Hattiesburg.
A new assistant professor at Mississippi State University understands the needs of the poultry industry as she works to create cost-effective, nutritionally sound, high quality feed formulations.
Kelley Wamsley recently joined MSU’s Department of Poultry Science and is building a research program focused on developing new cost-effective diets for poultry, Mississippi’s top agricultural commodity. Feed and feed-related manufacturing costs account for 60 to 70 percent of total production costs for poultry producers.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Significant production levels and high market prices combined to give Mississippi’s agricultural commodities over $7 billion in total value.
Mississippi State University agricultural economists gathered preliminary data from crop production reports, world agricultural supply and demand estimates, industry resources and U.S. Department of Agriculture outlook reports. They predict a $7.3 billion annual value of the state’s top crops, excluding government payments. Final figures will be available in the spring of 2013.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Poultry again took the top spot among Mississippi’s agricultural commodities for 2012, with a preliminary estimated value of $2.5 billion.
The total estimated value of poultry increased from 2011 by 6.2 percent. Broilers gained 7 percent in value, while eggs and chickens stayed level with 2011’s values.
John Michael Riley, agricultural economist with Mississippi State University’s Extension Service, said poultry values for 2012 are higher than 2011 values and have increased every year for the past five years.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – A new record average yield of 42 bushels per acre pushed soybeans to a record value of more than $1 billion, boosting the crop to No. 2 among Mississippi’s agricultural commodities.
Soybeans have an estimated 2012 value of $1.16 billion, up 37 percent from $842 million in 2011. Soybeans came in behind poultry but for the first time were ahead of forestry in the ranking of the state’s top three crops.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – An 8 percent increase in a billion-dollar industry is significant, but timber still fell from its long-held second place spot on Mississippi’s agricultural commodity list.
James Henderson, assistant forestry professor with Mississippi State University’s Extension Service, is estimating the 2012 value of Mississippi forest products to be $1.03 billion, compared with $957 million the previous year. Final numbers using more complete data will replace the estimate in February.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Mississippi growers harvested record corn yields in the state, and good prices pushed corn to a record production value, making it the state’s fourth biggest agricultural commodity.
Corn has a 2012 record value estimated at $891 million, which was 52 percent higher than the 2011 value of $587 million. Growers harvested an estimated 156 bushels per acre on average, beating the previous record of 148 bushels per acre set in 2007. Poultry, soybeans and forestry round out the state’s top crops.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- As news shows bombard the public with reports of senseless violence, young eyes are also watching as adults struggle to handle the information.
News of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut will receive tremendous coverage throughout the holiday season. Families may need help as the entire country recovers from the tragedy.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – An upcoming two-state dairy conference has a long history of helping those in the business stay on top of important industry issues and improve the profitability of their farms.
The 23rd annual Mississippi-Louisiana Dairy Management Conference will be held Jan. 10 in Tylertown at the Southwest Events Center. The Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Louisiana State University AgCenter are sponsoring the event.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Another year will soon begin, and with it, people will make resolutions for financial fitness and better spending and saving habits.
Bobbie Shaffett, family resource management specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said being smart about money means being realistic.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A gift of butterflies has expanded the collection at the Mississippi Entomological Museum, the result of a life passionately dedicated to collecting the beautiful and fragile specimens.
Ruth Williams of Hattiesburg, widow of James J. Williams, donated Jim’s collection of tropical South American butterflies to Mississippi State University in November. There are about 1,300 labeled and identified specimens displayed in 46 cases.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Did you pick your career or did it pick you?
Long, hot days driving a tractor in a hay field and crack-of-dawn cattle roundups helped me decide that farming was not the life for me. Instead, I opted for an education that allowed me to get an 8-to-5 job in an air-conditioned office and earn a regular paycheck.
In college, I majored in communication with an emphasis in public relations, never intending to stay in my hometown of Starkville. I was going to a big city with all the excitement and money that I thought it would offer.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Clarissa Balbalian’s job presents a new mystery every day.
“If you are analytical and like solving mysteries, this is the perfect job,” said Balbalian, the manager of Mississippi State University’s plant diagnostic lab. “I like working with people and helping them find solutions to their problems, too.”
Balbalian studied biology at Longwood University in Virginia, and then earned her master’s degree in forest pathology at West Virginia University.