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Cummings and Goings in Agriculture

Plant Center Pivotal Point Conservation Fund

There are a couple of upcoming activities that you might be interested in.  The first is the Annual Wildflower Tour at the Jamie L. Whitten Plant Materials Center located on Highway 330 between Coffeeville and Tillatoba.  The wildflower tour is June 13 with registration between 8 and  10 a.m.  Admission is $3, which includes lunch.  Please call our office at 675-2730 by June 4, and we will make reservations for you.  

Wagon tours of the wildflower and grass fields will be held throughout the day.  The tours will also have presentations on wildflower planting, Mississippi wildflowers, and other native and naturalized plants.  Dr. Lelia Kelly and Susan Harkness will present programs on landscaping and pollinators.  These presentations are worth the trip.  

You may also want to bring a plant and trade for another one at the plant swap.  Wildflower seeds will also be available for purchase.  This is always a real enjoyable event.

The other upcoming activity is the Mississippi Youth Championship Horse Show on June 16, at 10 a.m., at the Yalobusha County Multipurpose Building.  

This show will be followed by an open judge horse show at 2 p.m. and a timed event horse show at 6 p.m.  This year looks to be a strong year with Yalobusha County’s 4-H Horse Show Exhibitions.  They have entered 160 classes at the district 4-H show and these shows will provide you the opportunity to see Yalobusha County’s 4-H horsemen at their best.  As usual, there is no admission fee.

Wildflower Conservation Program

The Mississippi Native Wildflower Conservation Program came about because of a joint effort of several agencies. Years ago, the National Park Service requested the USDA Jamie L. Whitten Plant Materials Center (PMC) near Coffeeville, research the possibility of using native plants and wildflowers to control erosion and beautify areas along the Natchez Trace Parkway.

The Park Service had some unsuccessful plantings of varieties purchased from vendors located in other geographic regions of the U.S. The PMC then began the painstaking task of harvesting seeds from Mississippi’s rich and varied assortment of native wildflowers. These varieties were researched, cultivated and grown over the years and supplied to the Park Service to use in plantings along the Natchez Trace.

Mississippi Soil & Water Conservation Commission (MSWCC), wanted to make these seeds available to the general public, but this required legislative action.

A Bill was introduced, and in 1996 the Mississippi Legislature authorized the Wildflower Seed Revolving Fund, which allows the purchase of seeds by the MSWCC from the USDA Jamie L. Whitten Plant Materials Center. Through the cooperation of the USDA/NRCS and the MSWCC, the Mississippi Native Wildflower Conservation Program was established.

The Mississippi Native Wildflower Conservation Program is a statewide effort to both preserve and distribute wildflowers native to Mississippi. Most of Mississippi’s 82 Soil & Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) have joined in this effort by becoming the supply source for groups and organizations, as well as the general public, to obtain native wildflower and grass seeds.

Horticulturists at the PMC are working on new varieties, as well as native grasses for wildlife food plots. Each wildflower is suited for certain growing conditions and an information sheet is available on each one.

Seeds may be obtained from Soil & Water Conservation District offices that choose to take part in this program. Generally, seeds are sold in one-pound units.  SWCDs can purchase seeds from the Commission, but are free to define the manner in which the District distributes the seeds.

Some SWCDs will order and repackage seeds into smaller units, or sell seed mixtures. Districts sometimes sell seeds and use proceeds for their educational outreach activities. To enhance this program, SWCDs also sometimes purchase other types of seeds for fundraising, such as lance-leaf coreopsis or herbs from commercial seed vendors.

The Plant Materials Center was not able to devote the amount of acreage and staff necessary to produce yields that would satisfy demand of some varieties, chiefly the state wildflower, the lance-leaf coreopsis.     Rather than devote a lot of time and effort to produce a small amount of seeds, the PMC decided to devote their efforts and acreage to produce seeds that are more cost and land-efficient to produce, thus keeping costs down and production consistent.

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