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August 2, 1996 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Crops, Agricultural Economics

By Douglas Wilcox

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Caught between a rock and a hard place might best describe how Mississippi dairy producers are feeling this year. With the skyrocketing price of corn and low beef prices being offered for cull dairy cows, dairymen are facing a choice between paying higher feed prices or retiring and selling off their herds.

Dr. Tom Jones, extension agricultural economist at Mississippi State University, said last year's small corn crop is cutting into some dairy producers' profits and possibly forcing others out of business.

July 26, 1996 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Crops, Soybeans

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's soybean crop is playing out an agricultural version of the good, the bad and the ugly.

"Having gotten off to such a good start, it's disappointing to see what we have now in the state," said Dr. Alan Blaine, extension soybean specialist at Mississippi State University.

July 19, 1996 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Forestry, Timber Harvest

STARKVILLE -- Final figures for Mississippi's 1995 timber harvest show southern counties continue to lead the state in production levels.

Dr. Bob Daniels, extension forestry specialist at Mississippi State University, compiled the harvest data based on severance tax reports from the Mississippi State Tax Commission.

July 12, 1996 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Crops, Cotton

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- When cotton growers look down, they see plants full of potential. When they look up, growers see little hope of much-needed rains arriving in the next several weeks.

"Cotton needs rain soon to help the plants grow and fill out the bolls. Without a rain, we will start seeing boll losses," said John Coccaro, Sharkey County extension agricultural agent.

July 5, 1996 - Filed Under: Watermelon Cantaloupe and Cucumber, Watermelons

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Supplies of fresh Mississippi-grown watermelons, a traditional July Fourth treat, were lower than normal this year as uncooperative weather early in the growing season pushed harvest dates back.

A late spring freeze caused many of Mississippi's watermelon producers to harvest closer than normal to the Fourth of July with some fields missing the holiday demand altogether.

For the best prices, growers aim for harvest to begin around the middle of June and climaxing before July 4.

June 28, 1996 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Corn, Agricultural Economics

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Agricultural industries dependent on corn are more than ready for harvest to begin. Unfortunately, they have a long wait ahead of them and yields still are uncertain.

Corn prices are having a dramatic impact on the poultry, catfish, beef, dairy and swine industries.

Mike McAlpin, president of the Mississippi Poultry Association, said corn prices have doubled since January. He said feed is the primary poultry cost, regardless of the price.

June 21, 1996 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Crops, Wheat

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Most Mississippi wheat growers are cashing in on near-record wheat yields after pricing most of their crop when the markets were at record highs.

Growers have been harvesting wheat hastily between summer showers. The Mississippi Agricultural Statistics Service reported 70 percent of the wheat crop harvested by June 16. Many growers will complete harvesting within a week of that date and some will begin planting soybeans in those fields.

June 17, 1996 - Filed Under: Health, Lawn and Garden

RAYMOND -- Outdoor activities in the summer increase the risk of exposure to poison ivy, but the plant's danger does not disappear with the hot temperatures.

Thriving on Mississippi's hot, humid climate, poison ivy is very common in the state and causes discomfort for 80 to 85 percent of the population.

Norman Winter, extension horticulture specialist in Raymond, said poison ivy and poison oak have similar three-leaf patterns and should not be confused with the five-leaf Virginia creeper. Poison oak is the least common of the plants and rarely found in the state.

June 17, 1996 - Filed Under: Family, Children and Parenting

By Jennifer Glover

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Summer vacation is supposed to be a time for children to take a break from school and have a little fun. But as many parents know, summer usually ends up being a time of boredom for kids.

Dr. Louise Davis, extension child and family development specialist at Mississippi State University, said there are many fun educational activities for children, to make summer a memorable time.

June 17, 1996 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Livestock, Dairy

By Bethany Waldrop Keiper

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Although June is officially dairy month, the dairy industry is an important part of Mississippi's economy all year long. Mississippi's dairy industry generated an estimated $320 million in economic activity last year.

Dr. Reuben Moore, extension dairy specialist, at Mississippi State University, said total milk production in the state last year was 83 million gallons.

June 14, 1996 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Crops, Fruit

POPLARVILLE -- As harvest proceeds, some blueberry growers are finding a few more survivors than they had expected after an early March freeze sent temperatures plummeting into the teens for several nights.

Mississippi has about 1,700 acres of blueberries, but only about 900 acres -- primarily south of Hattiesburg -- will yield fruit this year.

June 7, 1996 - Filed Under: Catfish

By Bethany Waldrop Keiper

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Just like Mississippi's row crop producers, catfish farmers have had their share of weather-related problems during the first half of 1996.

An early, cool spring that suddenly turned into hot summertime threw off feeding earlier in the year, but now there is an even keel.

Variations in temperature and pond conditions can stress the catfish, causing them to eat less and grow more slowly.

June 6, 1996 - Filed Under: Family, Health

By Dawn R. West

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Effective first aid depends not only on the availability of supplies but also the knowledge of how to properly treat injuries.

Linda Patterson, extension health education specialist at Mississippi State University, said a first-aid kit should include basic, easy-to-purchase items to save someone's life or minimize injury or illness.

June 3, 1996 - Filed Under: Family, Family Dynamics

By Jennifer Glover

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Americans are living longer, and with the population of the older generation increasing, many people can expect to face the responsibility and privilege of caring for their aging parents.

Dr. Ann Jarratt, extension specialist at Mississippi State University, said this step of role-reversal can be difficult for many children and parents. Many times problems can arise if the decision is not thoroughly thought out.

June 3, 1996 - Filed Under: Family, Pets, Health, Lawn and Garden

By Bethany Waldrop Keiper

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Recent skyrocketing temperatures and dry weather have let Mississippians know the dog days of summer are here to stay. Unfortunately, hot weather isn't just a nuisance; without the proper precautions it can be life-threatening for people, pets and plants.

Linda Patterson, extension health specialist at Mississippi State University, said the high temperatures and humidity stress the body's ability to cool itself, making heat illness a special concern.

June 3, 1996 - Filed Under: Family, Food Safety

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Eating out should be a pleasure, not a risk. Food safety classes throughout the state target employees in a variety of food service locations.

From casinos, to schools, to day cares, to hospitals and nursing homes -- any place where food is served to the public -- food handlers need to know how to keep the products safe for consumers.

Over a five-year period, 77 percent of the foodborne disease outbreaks reported to the Center of Disease Control were attributed to food service establishments.

June 3, 1996 - Filed Under: Fruit, Lawn and Garden

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Most Mississippians have forgotten the bitter cold days of winter as temperatures continue to climb. But bare trees, bushes and vines will long remind fruit growers of the early March freeze that gripped the state.

Dr. Freddie Rasberry, extension fruit and nut specialist at Mississippi State University, said the state's fruit crops suffered major losses from the freeze.

May 31, 1996 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Crops, Disaster Response

STARKVILLE -- Most farmers welcomed recent rains, but growers along the Mississippi River are experiencing an unbelievable fourth year of late season flooding.

Wayland Hill, hydrologic engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg, said flooding along the lower Mississippi is a result of rains much farther north.

May 23, 1996 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Crops

By Bethany Waldrop Keiper

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The dry weather that allowed some state farmers to finish early season planting has outworn its welcome, stopping planting and hindering growth in many fields. Soil moisture conditions are short to very short across most of the state, and gusty winds in areas of the Delta have further depleted soil moisture.

"We are dry, and a little dry weather early on doesn't hurt, but it is becoming an extended situation and we need a rain pretty badly," said Dr. Alan Blaine, extension agronomist at Mississippi State University.

May 17, 1996 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Vegetable Gardens

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Dripping wet with perspiration, battling biting insects and reaching through itchy plants: Most gardeners don't endure these conditions for money; they do it for love.

Dr. David Nagel, extension horticulturist at Mississippi State University, said the priority for most gardeners is quality, not saving or making money. This love of quality, fresh produce inspires many Mississippians to the labor-intensive task of growing their own fruits and vegetables or at least seeking out a farmer's market.