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News From 2015

Although Mississippi remains fairly rural, deer seek refuge in areas that offer shelter, plentiful food, few predators and abundant water sources, so they frequently are found snacking in suburban flowerbeds. (Photo by iStock)
July 2, 2015 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, White-Tailed Deer

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Summer in Mississippi brings a bountiful buffet of fruits, vegetables, flowers and shrubs to enjoy -- but not just for people. White-tailed deer, avid plant browsers always eager for high-energy food, seem to enjoy the fruits of the gardener’s labor just as much!

Deer can be among the most destructive wildlife intruders for vegetable gardens, flower beds, trees, shrubs, berries and vines. In fact, a small herd of deer can eat and trample a small, backyard garden virtually overnight, according to the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management.

June 30, 2015 - Filed Under: Crops, Irrigation, Technology

STONEVILLE, Miss. -- Row crop producers who irrigate their crops can learn the benefits of soil moisture sensors during two separate field days planned for July and August.

Jason Krutz, an irrigation specialist with Mississippi State University, said farmers can learn about the advantages of using soil moisture sensors to determine when to irrigate.

Participants also can see the devices in action. Product demonstrations by manufacturers and distributors will showcase types of sensors, features and costs.

Remove the nonshowy flowers from plants like this coleus to allow the colorful foliage to be the focus. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
June 29, 2015 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

I’m like most home gardeners when it comes to working in and maintaining my garden and landscape. My philosophy to garden chores can be summed up by the catchphrase of a friend of mine who is a home improvement expert: “I’m all about easy.”

This philosophy is especially true during the heat and humidity of the summer.

But despite my desire to do things the easy way, there are important summer garden activities required to keep some flowering plants looking good. Deadheading is one of these maintenance chores that often gets overlooked.

Mississippi State University graduate student Chelsie Darnell of Union City, Tennessee, gently knocks thrips from soybean plants to her collection tray in a Sunflower County, Mississippi, field on June 3, 2015. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Linda Breazeale)
June 29, 2015 - Filed Under: Insects-Crop Pests, Insects

INDIANOLA, Miss. -- Seed treatments have minimized thrips damage for the last decade, but farmers and entomologists fear some pesticides may be losing their punch in protecting cotton.

Scientists at Mississippi State University and other universities across the Midsouth have been aggressively exploring options for controlling thrips damage in cotton.

Angus Catchot, an entomologist with the MSU Extension Service, said the use of foliar treatments for thrips in cotton has grown steadily in recent years.

June 29, 2015 - Filed Under: Livestock, Beef

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- A Mississippi State University professor is the new executive director of the Beef Improvement Federation.

June 29, 2015 - Filed Under: Farming, Agricultural Economics

GOODMAN, Miss. -- Farmers and producers can learn about the relationship between risk management and insurance during a July 17 field day at the Alliance for Sustainable Agricultural Production Farm near Goodman.

Participants also will receive training in legal and contractual issues. The National Center for Appropriate Technology Gulf States Office and the University of Mississippi Transactional Law Clinic will team up to deliver these sessions.

With consumer demand high and input costs down, Mississippi catfish producers are stocking their ponds at high rates this year. (File Photo by MSU Ag Communications)
June 26, 2015 - Filed Under: Catfish

RAYMOND, Miss. -- High consumer demand and lower input costs have Mississippi catfish farmers filling their ponds to the brim.

“Consumer demand has stayed pretty high, and that has farmers stocking at high rates, even though pond acreage is down by almost 8 percent from last year,” said Jimmy Avery, Extension aquaculture professor at the Mississippi State University Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville. “We are optimistic that consumers are still out there and demanding a U.S. farm-raised product.”

Mississippi reptiles, such as this snapping turtle, can be seen crossing the road this time of year as they search for sandy soil in which to build nests and lay eggs. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Kat Lawrence)
June 26, 2015 - Filed Under: Environment, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Have you ever wondered why there seem to be a lot of turtles crossing the road this time of year?

The turtles you see crossing the road in spring and early summer are most often females. They are either in search of a good place to lay their eggs or returning to their home territory. Drivers should not risk a vehicle accident to avoid hitting a turtle on the road. However, unnecessary turtle deaths should be avoided.

Setting off fireworks over a lake or pond away from houses decreases the risk of fires. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Kevin Hudson)
June 25, 2015 - Filed Under: Community, Family

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The color red is a Fourth of July trademark, but sometimes it represents danger.

There are more fires reported on Independence Day than any other day of the year. Fireworks account for two out of every five of these fires. Injury rates are highest among 15- to 24-year-olds and second highest among 10-year-olds, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

In Mississippi, children as young as 12 can buy fireworks. State law prohibits cherry bombs, tubular salutes, repeating bombs, aerial bombs and torpedoes.

Pets left inside vehicles, especially on hot summer days, can suffer heat exhaustion and heatstroke. (Staged photo by MSU Ag Communications/Kat Lawrence)
June 23, 2015 - Filed Under: Community, Family, Pets

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Summers are no laughing matter here in Mississippi, especially for those wearing fur coats.

Dr. Brittany Thames, assistant clinical professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences with the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine, said dogs and cats are vulnerable to heat, but dogs are more prone to overheating, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

Blue Daze evolvulus is an easy-to-care-for plant that spreads quickly. The foliage has a downy appearance, and the sky-blue flowers are open for only one day. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
June 22, 2015 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

Most gardeners have favorite landscape plants they use every year, and I’m no different. But I also like to try new plants I see in garden centers or learn about from perusing winter catalogs.

This week, I want to tell you about some of the plants that are so far performing well in my landscape.

One plant I like to grow each summer is Blue Daze evolvulus, because this is an easy-to-care-for plant that needs minimal attention. Blue Daze has been around for a long time and was one of the first plants chosen as a Mississippi Medallion winner in 1996.

Andrew Kouba, the new head of the Mississippi State University Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, holds a slender loris. (File photo)
June 22, 2015 - Filed Under: Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Andrew J. Kouba, director of conservation and research at the Memphis Zoo, is the new head of the Mississippi State University Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Kouba will begin serving Aug. 16 as head of the academic, research and extension unit of the university’s College of Forest Resources.

These watermelons at Charlie's U-Pik near Lucedale, Mississippi, are among the earliest in the state on June 3, 2015. The majority of Mississippi's 3,000 acres of commercial watermelons will be ripe the Fourth of July, but growers will be harvesting into August. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Kevin Hudson)
June 19, 2015 - Filed Under: Watermelons, Watermelon Cantaloupe and Cucumber

LUCEDALE, Miss. -- Mississippi watermelon growers battled frequent rains to get their crops planted and ready in time for the Fourth of July and other summer celebrations.

David Nagel, horticulture specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said most of the crop is smaller and later than normal.

“If the sun doesn’t shine, the leaves don’t make sugar, plants don’t grow and we have smaller watermelons,” Nagel said. “Recent sunny days are allowing some of the crop to catch up. Melons may still be small, but they will be sweet and firm, or crisp.”

June 19, 2015 - Filed Under: Agriculture

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- A Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine student has won an award for his communication skills.

June 19, 2015 - Filed Under: About Extension

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Fifteen communication professionals at Mississippi State University won national awards June 8-11 at the annual conference of the Association for Communication Excellence.

Bob Ratliff, marketing and communications coordinator for the MSU Extension Service Center for Government and Community Development, won an Award of Excellence for writing. Ratliff began his writing career in 1975 and has worked for the MSU Extension Service and the Progressive Farmer Radio Network.

Photo of the book.
June 19, 2015 - Filed Under: Fisheries, Wildlife, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

RAYMOND, Miss. -- Several Mississippi State University scientists and their colleagues recently won top honors in a national competition for providing research-based information on fish and wildlife management to the public.

The Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals awarded the 2015 Gold Award in the Outstanding Educational Materials Category for long publications to contributors of a new fisheries and wildlife management handbook, “Fish and Wildlife Management: A Handbook for Mississippi Landowners.”

Being prepared for outdoor adventures includes carrying a hiking kit with a map, compass, flashlight, knife, whistle, first-aid items, water and protection from the seasonal elements. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Kevin Hudson)
June 19, 2015 - Filed Under: Environment, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi boasts a wealth of outdoor recreational opportunities for residents and visitors, with abundant lakes, rivers, forests, refuges, state parks, national parks and camping areas.

With that being said, any outdoor activity can also bring risks if recreation lovers not fully prepared.

Mississippi beekeepers can post a "Bee Aware" flag, such as this one flying in a bee yard in Monroe County, Mississippi, to raise awareness of pollinators in the area. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Reid Nevins)
June 17, 2015 - Filed Under: Beekeeping, Insects

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Pitting farmers against beekeepers does little to solve the problems facing pollinators.

Varroa mites -- such as this one attached to a honeybee -- transmit viruses, weaken bee health and factor prominently in the decline of bee populations. (Photo by USDA-ARS/Steve Ausmus)
June 17, 2015 - Filed Under: Beekeeping, Insects

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- A lifelong beekeeper and Mississippi State University Extension Service apiculture specialist offers an unusual list of reasons for bee colony death.

“My top three reasons for bee colony death are Varroa mites, Varroa mites and Varroa mites,” said bee expert Jeff Harris. “This is my sarcastic response to the heavy emphasis in the press on the effects of insecticides and other pesticides on honey bees.

June 17, 2015 - Filed Under: Water

LORMAN, Miss. -- Producers can learn about low-cost, efficient water management practices for their farms during a seminar at Alcorn State University’s model farm in Lorman.

Bill Evans, an associate research professor at the Mississippi State University Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station in Crystal Springs, will be one of the featured speakers at the June 30 sustainable water management workshop.