STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The coldest days of winter do not seem to slow squirrel activity.
One significant reason is that mating season for eastern gray squirrels lasts through January, and babies arrive about six weeks later.
Most squirrels build nests for these babies in the forks of tree branches or in the hollows of tree trunks. Their nests are created mostly out of dry leaves and twigs.
Mississippi gardeners who plan to incorporate more pollinator plants into their landscapes can consider native milkweed and begin gathering seed for indoor propagation.
HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- An afternoon workshop will help Mississippi commercial blueberry growers brush up on the latest research and training related to their crop.
The Mississippi State University Extension Service is hosting the 2018 Mississippi Blueberry Education Workshop Jan. 23 at the Forrest County Extension office in Hattiesburg. Registration is at the door on the day of the event at 1 p.m. There is no cost for the workshop.
As gardeners make New Year’s resolutions for their landscapes in 2018, I want to encourage all of them to resolve to correctly prune crape myrtles from this day forward.
In the current vernacular, severe pruning of crape myrtles is called “crape murder,” reflecting the seemingly random nature of the pruning cuts. To me, this type of pruning is very unattractive in the landscape.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- When you invite guests to your private property for outdoor recreation, there are several ways to reduce potential liability concerns that could arise.
First, your duty as a landowner depends on the status of the visitor who is on your property. A landowner owes no duty to trespassers other than not to intentionally harm them.
For the last Southern Gardening column of 2017, I want to take a look back at some of my absolute favorite plants from my home landscape this past year.
I have been talking for several years about what fantastic garden performers Supertunias are. But my absolute favorite -- and it has been my favorite for several years -- is Supertunia Vista Bubblegum. This plant is so reliable it was chosen as a Mississippi Medallion winner in 2012.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- In recent years, wild pigs have been a controversial topic in wildlife and agricultural discussions from top government officials to local farmers talking over the fence.
Wild pigs are considered nuisance animals in Mississippi because of their ability to create widespread and devastating damage. Many researchers and wildlife managers have suggested that wild pigs could be North America’s most threatening invasive mammal species in terms of agricultural damage, disease transmission, native plant survival and water quality.
RAYMOND, Miss. -- A daylong Mississippi State University Extension Service workshop Jan. 18 will provide an in-depth look at horticulture and pest management with pecan orchards.
The Pecan Education Workshop will be held from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Raymond. The $35 cost covers registration, lunch and handouts, and must be submitted by Jan. 11. Late registration is on a space-available basis.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Agriculture continues to do its part to boost Mississippi’s economy as it remains a $7 billion industry in 2017.
Agricultural economists with the Mississippi State University Extension Service released year-end estimates Dec. 19 on the value of state crops. The top two agricultural commodities are still poultry at $2.8 billion, an increase of 13 percent, and forestry at $1.4 billion, a decline of 8 percent.
“Early expectations are for good reports in most commodities for 2017,” said Brian Williams, Extension agricultural economist. “Poultry, overall crops and livestock totals should all improve over the 2016 values. The exceptions are forestry, catfish and some individual commodities.”
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The poultry industry is the giant in the state’s agricultural economy, as its estimated 2017 production value of $2.8 billion nearly doubles the value of forestry.
Early figures from the Mississippi State University Extension Service show the industry grew at an estimated 13.4 percent from the 2016 value. Brian Williams, Extension agricultural economist, said higher broiler prices are responsible for the value increase.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The 2017 production value of Mississippi’s four largest row crops is forecasted to outperform the previous year by more than 7 percent.
Brian Williams, agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, predicted the combined value of soybeans, cotton, corn and rice will be nearly $2.1 billion this year. The total projected value for all agronomic crops is $2.5 billion, which would be a 6.4 percent increase over the $2.4 billion value reached in 2016.
RAYMOND, Miss. -- Despite a slow housing market and other lingering effects of the recession, Mississippi’s forests remain the state’s second most valuable agricultural commodity for 2017.
John Auel, an assistant Extension professor of forestry at Mississippi State University, estimates the value of forest products is $1.4 billion, which is a decrease of 8.6 percent from 2016. However, 2017 numbers are almost 40 percent higher than they were in 2009, when the industry experienced its lowest valued harvest of the 2007-2009 recession.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The Mississippi State University Extension Service will host a workshop designed to deliver food science, economics and business expertise to producers.
Anyone who operates or is interested in operating a farm or any other agriculture-based food business can attend the Food as a Business for Producers workshop in the Bost Conference Center auditorium at Mississippi State University in Starkville on Jan. 24, 2018.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Diet and exercise are popular New Year’s resolutions, but sleep is just as important when cultivating healthy lifestyles.
Sleep deprivation can cause a myriad of health concerns in both adults and children, including excess body fat, said Lori Elmore-Elmore-Staton, an assistant professor in the Mississippi State University School of Human Sciences.
“Sleep is related to obesity. If you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases more hormones telling you that you’re hungry, and it releases less hormones telling you that you’re full. It thinks you need more energy because something is wrong,” Elmore-Staton explained.
If you’re thinking about gardening this Christmas holiday season, it’s probably about poinsettias and other decorative indoor plants. I’m right there with you, as I’m looking at a bookcase lined with red, pink and white poinsettias as I sit here writing.
But a plant that I just love for spring and summer landscapes is rudbeckia, which you probably know as Black-eyed Susans.
Members of the Hinds County 4-H Leadership team for 2017-2018 were recently selected. The team consists of 4-H’ers in both the Mississippi State University Extension Service 4-H program and the Alcorn State University Extension 4-H program. Team members are selected based on performance in and commitment to the 4-H program and participation in leadership roles in their 4-H clubs, schools and communities. Selected team members will learn about and practice leadership, citizenship and communication skills through various projects.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The volunteer efforts of Dr. Carla Huston have helped veterinarians and animal rescuers in Mississippi save and treat hundreds of livestock and pets after disasters.
An associate professor with the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Huston is a member of the Mississippi Animal Response Team and oversees the Mississippi Animal Disaster Relief Fund. As the MSU Extension Service veterinarian, she works with veterinary practitioners and Extension agents across the state to keep animals healthy.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Winter weather makes life more difficult for wildlife, even in the South. Animals must have shelter to survive the potentially deadly effects of ice, snow and freezing rain.
Food can be hard to find in winter. Animals that eat plants or insects have few choices once their food dies with the cold weather or is covered by wintry precipitation. Even predators face food shortages since winter conditions can cause their prey to spend more time in hiding.
Most folks have poinsettias and entertaining on the agenda during the holidays, but for this week’s column, I want to highlight a plant that has been an outstanding performer for me all year.
It took this past weekend’s hard freeze to finally shut down my black-eyed Susan vine (I’m going to use the abbreviation BES for this flower), known botanically as Thunbergia alata. For many gardeners, in their experience this is traditionally a basket plant that deserves to be grown more often.
STARKVILLE, Miss.—J. Christopher “Chris” Giancarlo, chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, is visiting Mississippi State University this week to learn more about the land-grant university’s expertise in agricultural fields and interact with MSU students.
Charlie Thornton, legislative affairs director for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, is joining Giancarlo on the trip. The visitors spent part of the week touring agricultural facilities, including MSU’s Delta Research and Extension Center in the Mississippi Delta, before coming to Starkville Tuesday [Dec. 5] and meeting with MSU President Mark E. Keenum and other university leaders.