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Ag producers gather, give input at meeting
BILOXI, Miss. -- Agricultural producers met with Mississippi State University experts on Feb. 23 at the Coastal Research and Extension Center Commodity Advisory Council meeting.
The meeting is an annual event that brings coastal area producers, industry professionals and MSU personnel together to discuss research and educational priorities for the coming year. Producers converged on the center despite severe weather threats to provide essential input.
“We are so glad you chose to join us despite the weather,” said Wayne Porter, regional Extension coordinator for the costal district. “Your feedback is important to the work we do, and we welcome your comments any time of year.”
Extension Director Gary Jackson said a needs assessment performed by Extension identified the top priorities of Mississippi citizens as safe and secure communities and a safe, affordable and accessible food supply.
“Those two concerns are right at the top of Extension’s major priorities,” Jackson said. “We know our work is important to this state, and this process helps us provide you with the type of information you need.”
Eight commodity groups were represented, including forestry, livestock, beekeepers, agronomic crops, fruits and vegetables, commercial ornamental horticulture, horses and small ruminants, and seafood and aquaculture.
Forestry representatives said they want more education on beaver control, invasive species, use of herbicides in site preparation and technology to help landowners with management.
The livestock group discussed current research and educational programs, including deworming strategies, techniques to administer medications and stocking rates for cost-effective production.
Beekeepers requested educational material on plants that provide food for bees throughout the year, especially in the winter. They also want to reach out to young people through 4-H, FFA and other organizations to get them involved in beekeeping.
The agronomic crops group asked for research and education on fertility management, forage weed control variety selection for improved yield and herbicide resistant weeds in corn and soybeans.
Fruit and vegetable growers said they need research on commercial tomato varieties for field and high-tunnel growth. They would also like education on marketing tomatoes and cabbage and broccoli heading challenges.
The commercial ornamental horticulture group requested educational programs on pest control, including emerald ash borer, olive gall and chilli thrips. They also expressed a need for more agricultural business training videos.
The horse and small ruminant group discussed upcoming horse programs, including horse management 101, helmet safety awareness and a summer horsemanship series. Sheep and goat producers talked about the wool pool in Stone County and wool production in the state.
The seafood and aquaculture group discussed the possibility of a future partnership between MSU and schools in the coastal region to introduce aquaculture careers to students.
The Coastal Research and Extension Center, which was established in Biloxi in 1988, oversees Extension programs in 21 southeastern Mississippi counties, on the reservation of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and at the Crosby Arboretum in Picayune. The center also maintains branch experiment stations in Harrison, Jackson, Perry, and Pearl River counties under the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station system. For more information, visit http://extension.msstate.edu/coastal-research-extension-center or http://www.coastal.msstate.edu.