Cummings and Goings in Agriculture

Not all of the county received rain last week, but parts of the county received up to five inches.  Fortunately, the parts of the county that received the most rain had been the driest all year.  Unfortunately, however, it rained so hard and fast that a lot of it ran off. The rains kept our farmers out of the fields no more than two days.

Reports of some exceptionally good yields have come in all crops.  Then again, there have been some average yields reported in some areas as well.  We will have to wait until the end of harvest to see how the overall yields turn out.   But, one thing is for sure; the crop yields could have been a whole lot worse due to the hot, dry, erratic weather conditions we had this summer.

Our Nutrition and Food Safety Area Agent, Pamela Redwine, brought her new baby, Andy, to our office for his first visit.  Don’t think Andy ever knew he came for a visit as he slept the whole time, but he sure is a fine boy.

We are still taking cheese orders so if you plan to order for Christmas, please call our office at 675-2730.

Horticulture Tips

The complaints of Northerners about heat waves of 85 or 88 degrees bring a smile to Mississippians, but one of the results of this summer’s warm beweather is coming apparent. Michigan has just let the rest of us know that their pumpkin crop will be much smaller than normal. While few pumpkins from Michigan are bought in Mississippi, the areas that do supply us with jack-o’-lanterns now have a larger market. The pumpkins, which may have come here to grace the front porch in Holly Springs, Holly Bluff, or Holly Ridge, may now wind up in just plain Holly. We do have pumpkin growers in Mississippi, but you may want to reserve space in your garden next summer to grow your own decorations.

Gourds are one of the decorations used this time of year, primarily for their colorful, patterned rinds. Before using them for decoration, make sure the gourds are fully dried. The gourd should be light for its size, the rind should be hard, and it should sound hollow.

The old definition of gourds are used and squash are eaten doesn’t really work anymore. Turk’s Turban has a very edible winter squash flesh. Both snake gourd and loofa can be eaten like zucchini when they are less than four inches long.

Decorations from the garden can be a hit at Christmas. There are several varieties of radish that have roots that are red at the top and white at the bottom. The most common one is Sparkler, a round radish, which was the model for all those coloring book pictures.

The next easiest to find is called French Breakfast radish. Even though it isn’t French and they definitely don’t eat it for breakfast, it is an elongated radish. More difficult to find are mezzo lungo (medium long) and lungo (long) Italian radishes like Rosso Di Napoli. These tend to be longer and thinner than French Breakfast, but still have the red top and white bottom that lend them to creating edible table decorations for the Christmas Season. Sparkler and French Breakfast are very fast growers and only take three to three and a half weeks from seed to harvest.

The Italian radishes may take four weeks or slightly longer. All of them are frost tolerant. Find the seed this month and plan sowing about a month before your Christmas entertaining.  

The short days are a signal for many weeds to produce seeds. Make sure to cultivate the garden to remove weeds even if you don’t have any desired plants growing now. It is far easier to keep one plant from producing hundreds of seeds than it is to prevent a hundred seeds from producing one plant.

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