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A closeup of a variable oakleaf caterpillar.
July 12, 2024 - Filed Under: Natural Resources, Forestry

RAYMOND, Miss. -- The consequences of last year’s significant drought continue to appear in trees all over Mississippi. Landowners in Central Mississippi have recently reported damage from variable oakleaf caterpillars and hypoxylon canker, according to the Mississippi Forestry Commission.

The combination of the caterpillars and hypoxylon canker has been observed affecting trees in towns including Raymond, Flora and Pocahantas.For drought-stressed trees, the double whammy can be a serious threat, but healthy trees will be able to withstand both pests, said Brady Self, a forestry specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

July 9, 2024 - Filed Under: Natural Resources, Forestry, Forest Management, Forest Pests

RAYMOND, Miss. -- Forest landowners who incurred damage from last year’s drought now have more information about the federal cost shares for restoration assistance approved in April. The Emergency Forest Restoration Program, or EFRP, is open to landowners in all 82 counties with private, nonindustrial property in rural areas who have lost pine trees related to pine bark beetle infestations that stemmed from last year’s drought.

Clusters of white flowers bloom on bushes in a landscape.
July 8, 2024 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Hydrangeas are one of my favorite plants to use in areas of my landscape that get part shade and full shade. This year, my hydrangeas have really put on a show with their colorful blooms.

One of the most popular and widely grown species, the bigleaf hydrangea, has always fascinated me with its ability to change color based on the soil pH and aluminum availability.

A green tomato on a bush is dusted lightly with powder.
July 3, 2024 - Filed Under: Insects Vegetable Gardens, Vegetable Gardens

Mississippi’s ideal growing season means gardens can yield a lot of produce, but this usually comes with the help of pesticides to combat insects and diseases.
It is vital that home gardeners know how much time must elapse between application of the product and when the food is harvested, a time frame known as the pre-harvest interval, or PHI.

Emerging Viruses in Cucurbits Working Group logo.
July 3, 2024 - Filed Under: Commercial Horticulture, Other Vegetables, Vegetable Diseases

RAYMOND, Miss. -- Mississippi State University Extension Service plant pathologist Rebecca Melanson was recently recognized for her work to further the development and implementation of integrated pest management in the cucurbit industry. The Emerging Viruses in Cucurbits Working Group, or EVCWG, received the 2024 Friends of IPM Pulling Together Award. Melanson and Bill Wintermantel, a scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, co-chair the group that was established in 2022.

July 2, 2024 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Crops, Crop Growth Stages

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Growers interested in the latest updates on row crop research at Mississippi State University are invited to an agronomic field day Aug. 6.

Hosted by the Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, the field day will be held at the head house at the MAFES R.R. Foil Plant Science Research Center.

The field day will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. There is no cost to attend, and the event includes a catered lunch.

A bee hangs onto a slender stem that has white flowers.
July 1, 2024 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

One of my favorite gardening experiences is seeing plants spontaneously appear in various spots in my home garden and landscape.

I love these plant volunteers, and I let them flourish in unexpected places around my garden. Their surprise appearances make the garden feel alive and ever-changing.

A child paints a picture.
June 27, 2024 - Filed Under: Soils, Healthy Soils, Youth Gardening

Young people had the unique opportunity to learn interesting things about the soil, plants that grow in it and animals that feed on top of it at a recent field day.

A small group of dairy cows
June 27, 2024 - Filed Under: Dairy, Food and Health, Food Safety

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Despite encouraging milk prices, margins still project to be tight for Mississippi dairy farmers in 2024.

The latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasted this year’s average all-milk price at $21.60 per hundredweight nationally. Josh Maples, an agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said this is an improvement from last year, but still below 2022 levels, when prices hovered around $25 per hundredweight.

June 27, 2024 - Filed Under: Health, AIM for CHangE

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- An award-winning program within the Mississippi State University Extension Service will welcome a new leader July 1.

Screenshot of David Gilmer.
June 26, 2024 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Farming, Livestock, Health, The PROMISE Initiative

RAYMOND, Miss. -- Longtime dairy farmers David and Will Gilmer made the tough decision six years ago to get out of the dairy cattle business. The father-and-son team decided to transition their farm to beef cattle. However, the beef cattle business comes with its own stressful challenges.

A piece of green farm machinery moves through a wheat field.
June 26, 2024 - Filed Under: Wheat

Wheat harvest was complete across most of the state by late June, wrapping up a crop that was quite small compared to recent years and in fairly average condition.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated wheat harvest was 94% complete by June 23, well ahead of the 5-year average for harvest. Mississippi growers planted just 70,000 acres in 2023, and the crop has averaged 96,000 acres since 2021.

An older man drinks water in the kitchen.
June 25, 2024 - Filed Under: Food and Health, Health

RAYMOND, Miss. -- Heat-related illness is a concern for anyone as summer temperatures rise, but older adults are at greater risk of being negatively impacted. Extreme heat -- when temperatures rise above 90 degrees and combine with high humidity for two or more days -- is even more dangerous and can be deadly.

Three purple flowers bloom in a small cluster.
June 24, 2024 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

I am a big fan of incorporating unique native plants into the landscape due to their ecological, aesthetic and practical advantages. Native plants are exceptionally well-suited to the local soil, climate and environmental conditions, making them more resilient and easier to maintain than non-native species.

White-tailed deer in a park.
June 21, 2024 - Filed Under: Natural Resources, Wildlife, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

RAYMOND, Miss. -- An urban wildlife specialist and a group of trained volunteers with the Mississippi State University Extension Service have been tracking wildlife in the Jackson metro area for three years to better understand how gentrification impacts urban wildlife populations.

Their work is part of an unprecedented nationwide study led by Lincoln Park Zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute and recently published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” or PNAS.

June 18, 2024 - Filed Under: Pesticide Applicator Certification, Pests

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Private pesticide applicators will have new training requirements beginning July 1. The Mississippi Pesticide Safety Education Program has updated its online and face-to-face certification programs to meet this demand.

The new mandated training and competency requirements from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are for applicators who use restricted use pesticides on farmland and need to renew or obtain certification.

Green leaves are scattered with black spots.
June 18, 2024 - Filed Under: Fruit and Nut Diseases

Blueberry leaf rust has been identified on blueberries in Perry County, and everyone in the state with blueberries is cautioned to be on the lookout for this disease.
Alan Henn, plant pathologist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said leaf rust is not a common disease of blueberries in Mississippi, but it has been identified occasionally in several Mississippi counties during the last 10 years.

A veterinarian loads a syringe with medication for an animal.
June 18, 2024 - Filed Under: Food and Health, Health, The PROMISE Initiative

Dr. Kim Klunk expected a certain level of stress when she began practicing veterinary medicine two years ago near her hometown of Magnolia, Mississippi. “It’s one of those things that you hear other people talk about when you’re in vet school, but you don’t realize the complexity of all of it until you experience it yourself,” said Klunk, who works with her mother Dr. Rachel Bateman at her mixed-animal clinic in McComb. It’s a common realization for many veterinarians who deal daily with financial concerns, work-life balance, compassion fatigue and client relationships among other stressful challenges of the profession.

Delicate flower heads bloom in white and purple.
June 17, 2024 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

My friends, Ben and Kelly Boerner, have a charming home and gardens nestled in the picturesque countryside of Carriere, Mississippi. When I visited them, I found myself immersed in the beauty of their meticulously curated landscape, which features eye-catching wildflowers.

A woman stands outside in front of a playset.
June 14, 2024 - Filed Under: Nurturing Homes Initiative, Mississippi Child Care Resource and Referral

Carmen Grubbs Collins, a well-respected businesswoman in Simpson County who recently obtained her childcare license, is one of many Mississippians who are improving the quality of childcare they offer working parents. Receiving licensure was a significant milestone for Collins, and one she achieved with the support of the Nurturing Homes Initiative, or NHI, program. The NHI program is offered through the Mississippi State University Extension Service and funded by the Mississippi Department of Human Services.