After cleaning the mess from Hurricane Nate, I had the chance to participate in two outstanding field days in Mississippi and Louisiana. I really enjoyed the plantings at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station and the Mississippi State University Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station in Crystal Springs.
These events inspired me to share ideas over the next several weeks for great plants to put in your garden and landscape that you will enjoy next fall.
Mississippi’s sod producers experienced good news and bad news from 2017 weather conditions. Jay McCurdy, turfgrass specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the good news was a modestly warm spring with timely rainfall provided good growing conditions for most of the state’s sod farms. The bad news was the same weather promoted the growth of weeds and fungal diseases.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Feral cat control has been hotly debated in recent years because of concerns over lethal measures to limit the numbers of animals many consider to be pets.
Many of us have experienced the feel-good act of feeding or housing a stray cat. With so many cats roaming freely, how can we tell if a cat is wandering, homeless or feral? Knowing the difference can allow you to take the most humane action in helping the cat.
The first rule of transporting wild hogs is to not transport wild hogs. Bronson Strickland is the Mississippi State University Extension Service wildlife biologist and management specialist. He said the best way residents can help eradicate wild hogs is to hunt them while also trapping and killing them. Hunters who bring wild hogs into the state or relocate them for hunting, however, are committing a crime.
BILOXI, Miss. -- The 2017 Mississippi Coastal Cleanup has been rescheduled for Nov. 18 in the aftermath of Hurricane Nate.
“Authorities have closed all beaches for the cleaning that has to be done after the hurricane,” said Eric Sparks, event co-coordinator and assistant professor with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “It is illegal for anyone to be on the beaches until authorities reopen them, so we had to postpone our cleanup event.”
While Hurricane Nate was obviously not in the same class as Katrina, the last hurricane to hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast, it did provide gardeners a lesson in getting their landscapes ready before a storm.
I know it’s a bit backwards to wait until after the storm to make a list of tips to get your garden ready ahead of time. But this was the first hurricane I’ve experienced since moving to the Gulf Coast, and I’ve been thinking what I could have done better in advance.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- As hunting season begins, there are several issues landowners need to keep in mind when they allow sportsmen to use their property for hunting, fishing or other recreation.
Landowners should consider accident liability, lease fees and a legal contract for the arrangement. In a recreational hunting lease, the landowner grants access to his or her land for a certain period of time in exchange for fees or services rendered.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi producers are growing 28,100 acres of sweet potatoes this year, but not one of those is below the northern third of the state.
What keeps growers in south Mississippi from planting the increasingly popular crop? Weevils are mostly to blame.
“Sweet potatoes grown in south Mississippi require more inputs to exclude weevils from fields and have stricter regulations as far as how and where sweet potatoes can be shipped and marketed,” said Stephen Meyers, sweet potato specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service.
Gardeners can purchase hard-to-find native plants during the Crosby Arboretum’s popular Fall Native Plant Sale.
The semiannual sale will be Oct. 21 and 22 at the arboretum. It begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. Arboretum members can enter at 9 a.m. Admission is free.
Rehoboth Farms will host the upcoming Alliance of Sustainable Farms field day Oct. 20 in Pelahatchie.
Topics include beekeeping, home canning, and expanding markets and sales opportunities. Attendees also will tour the family-owned farm where the owners grow and sell fresh produce and eggs, along with canned fruits, preserves, sauces and seasonings. The farm includes spaces that can serve as a venue for weddings, meetings and other large gatherings.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Rooting and wallowing by wild hogs cause extensive land and crop damage, which can be stopped only by getting rid of the invasive animals.
Bill Hamrick, a wildlife associate with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said wild hogs use their snouts to turn over soil as they search for food.
"I heard someone say that if it has a calorie and they can get their mouth around it, hogs will eat it," Hamrick said. "Wild hogs are a generalist species. They eat whatever they can find year-round."
Cannas are commonly grown as large-specimen plants and look fantastic mass planted in landscapes. Their tropical-looking foliage lends bold texture to the space until the flowers steal the show from summer through fall.
In fact, the cannas I have planted in my Ocean Springs landscape right now are looking the best they have so far this year.
Wouldn’t it be nice if entering a Mississippi State University classroom solved every midlife crisis?
At age 52, Sylvia Clark found herself at a crossroad as she reflected on her life as a small business owner and caregiver for her family. Reared on a Webster County farm, Clark married shortly after earning an associate’s degree and settled into her role as the wife of a Vardaman sweet potato farmer. Eventually, their children were grown and their parents no longer needed her care. With the support of her family, Clark enrolled at MSU in 2006 to finish her formal education in agriculture and extension education.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Hurricanes Irma and Harvey recently blew through the Southeast and into the history books, bringing destructive winds and leaving devastating floods in their wakes.
Hurricane Harvey brought record-breaking rainfall to the continental U.S. -- 51.88 inches in a single event. After the severe winds left a path of destruction, flooding continued for days after Harvey made landfall and moved along the Texas coast.
Official numbers show Mississippi’s soybean crop is ahead of schedule and in good shape, but many fields have actually spent a wet month waiting for harvest.
Trent Irby, Mississippi State University Extension Service soybean specialist, said this delay -- caused by frequent, heavy rains -- impacted a portion of the state’s crop.
The number of wild hogs living in an area determines the severity of their impact on wildlife, as these invasive creatures eat any source of nutrition they can find.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- October is Children’s Health Month, but Mississippi’s Junior Master Wellness Volunteers are dedicated year-round to “promoting healthy living through community connections” in the state.
The Junior Master Wellness Volunteer program, or JrMWV, is a community health education and volunteer leader training program offered through the Mississippi State University Extension Service 4-H program in partnership with the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the UMMC/Myrlie Evers-Williams Institute.
Ann Sansing, MSU Extension community health coordinator, said this is the latest program developed in a five-year partnership with the medical center around delivery of the Community Health Advocate curriculum, which began there under the leadership of Dr. Rick deShazo.
I know some homeowners who look at ornamental grasses and wonder what is the big deal; these plants are only grass. But when fall rolls around, many of these naysayers change their opinion 180 degrees.
Fall is a great time to appreciate ornamental grasses, as their flower plumes, actually called inflorescences, really pop out in their full glory.
One of the best and showier grasses is not a selection that was bred for any particular characteristic. I’m talking about Gulf Muhly grass, a Mississippi native grass that really struts its stuff in the fall and winter.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi’s grain sorghum acreage is at an historic low, and market prices are not much better, but yields should be good.
Erick Larson, grain crops specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said that when market incentives went away after 2015, so did farmers’ desire to plant grain sorghum, also known as milo. State growers may have planted 10,000 acres this year, the fewest since record keeping began in 1929.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Thanks to the careful management and conservation efforts of Mississippi’s state and federal wildlife biologists, alligator populations across the state are thriving.
In fact, Ricky Flynt, alligator coordinator with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, said he considers the healthy alligator populations a conservation success story. From the early 1900s through the 1960s, alligators were not protected and were nearly eliminated, he explained. Now, their numbers are high enough to allow limited recreational hunting.