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Cummings and Goings in Agriculture

Beef and Birds Featured At County Multipurpose Building

By Steve Cummings

Our 4-H Program Assistant, Christine Fielder, is having a rough time.  She remains in the hospital and is not recuperating as fast as she would like.  Hopefully, she will improve and get to come home soon.  She appreciates everyone’s concerns and prayers.  Christine was supposed to retire February 28th, and we were planning a big send off party for her.  We are going to give her time to recover before we reschedule her retirement party.

The Yalobusha County Extension has several upcoming programs planned in the near future.

On March 10th, there will be a “Beef Quality Assurance Program” held at the Yalobusha County Multipurpose Building at 6:30 pm.  The Mississippi Beef Quality Assurance (MS-BQA) Program identifies areas in beef production where defects in quality occur and asks everyone involved with beef production to follow guidelines for product use and to use common sense, reasonable management skills, and accepted scientific knowledge to avoid product defects at the consumer level.   This is a great educational program that will help you look at ways to make you a better producer.  If you have an interest in the beef industry, you will want to attend this program.

Another program that might be of interest is on Bob White Quail Management.  There is a lot of interest in returning the Bob White Quail back to the numbers it once was in the county.  Dr. Wes Burger, Mississippi State University Professor, will present a program on March 12, 2009 at 6:30 pm at the Yalobusha County Multipurpose Building.  Dr. Burger is one of the top quail specialists in the nation.  If you are a hunter or just want to see the quail population grow in Mississippi, you will want to attend this meeting.

 Horticulture Tips

Some retailers are selling “green” fertilizers this season. Phosphorus from storm runoff is suspected of causing algae blooms in lakes and other bodies of water. Several cities in the U.S. have outlawed the use of phosphorus in lawn fertilizer and retailers are stocking these no- P fertilizers on the aisle, sometimes replacing the former phosphorus containing fertilizers entirely. What does this mean for we Mississippians? If the retailers charge the same amount for fifty pounds of 13-0-13 as they did for 13-13-13, it means we are paying for something we are not getting. If the prices have declined in proportion to the lack of phosphorus in the fertilizer, it may actually be a good thing. Phosphorus is very tightly bound in most of our soils and does not leach as readily as nitrogen and potassium. Many of our garden soils are already high or very high in phosphorus from previous years fertilization and don’t require any more P for plants to grow to their full potential. Adding more phosphorus to these soils is not beneficial and can lead to higher phosphorus levels in runoff. The only way to know if your soil needs more phosphorus is to have it tested. Visit your local county Extension office for information, forms and boxes to sample your soil for testing.

Roses — Set out rosebushes now.  Choose a sunny spot in the garden with well-drained soil.  You don’t have to create a bed dedicated only to roses.   Consider planting them with perennials or flowering shrubs so they become a part of the garden.

 Fruit trees — Prune your tree for better fruit and a healthier tree.  Cut dead branches and sprouts from the base.  Remove crossed or crowded limbs.  Prune out water sprouts, those long branches that grow straight up. If the tree is too large to spray or reach all the fruit, reduce the height by removing tall branches; do not chop off the top.

 Daffodils — Soak the stems of freshly cut daffodils in their own container of water for 6 to 8 hours before arranging them with other flowers.  Otherwise the daffodil sap will clog the stems of surrounding flowers.

Birds — Continue feeding birds; we’ll have some of the coldest winter weather this month.  This is a good time to start a list of the birds at your feeder.  Several inexpensive field guides are available at local bookstores.  The winter birds will soon be joined by waves of migrating species heading north.

Seeds — Before buying seeds this season, take stock of what you have left over.  If seeds were stored in a cool, dry place, they should still be viable for another season.  Check the date on the packets.  If they are two years old, don’t waste your time; buy new ones.

Pansies — As the weather begins to warm somewhat, apply liquid 20-20-20 fertilizer to beds of pansies and other cool-weather annuals.

Herbs — Your parsley probably has stayed green all winter.  Go ahead and use all you want fresh and dry the rest for later use.  As soon as the weather gets warm, the plants will go to seed and die.

Soil — Make sure your soil is dry before you work with it.  Wet soil can’t be tilled without compacting and leaving it in hard, unworkable clods.  To judge whether your soil is dry enough, pick up a handful and squeeze it in your palm.  Then drop it.  If it breaks up, you can work the soil.  If it remains a clod, you had better wait.

 Spring Branches — If early blooming shrubs haven’t already bloomed in your area you can cut a few branches of forsythia, quince (hawthorn), winter honeysuckle and spirea to force into bloom indoors. Dormant buds will open quickly in the warmth of the house.  Arrange by making a fresh cut and placing the branches into warm water.

 Successful Lawns Begin with the Right Turf Species

 The first step in having a successful lawn is to select a turf species that is adaptable to your area. Many of the seed on the shelves of larger chain stores are just not suitable for Mississippi lawns. Unless you live in the extreme northern counties most cool-season turf species (ryegrass, bluegrass, and most fescues) are poor choices as the heat of summer will be their demise and should not even be planted as temporary lawns once our warm season turf species begin to green-up. Also be somewhat skeptical of flashy catalog advertisements that guarantee beautiful lawns from seed especially when the turf species is never mentioned.  Centipede, bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, seashore paspalum, carpetgrass, and bahia grass are your seeded warm-season choices. All the above species can also be established vegetatively as well as St. Augustine grass, which is the most tolerant to shad.

Every lawn environment has its own problem areas such as drainage, soil pH, fertility, traffic, heavy shade, invasive weed species, salt, etc. that needs to be addressed and proper species selection helps cope with these various problems.

For more details and better understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of these different warm-season turf species and how to best establish them obtain a copy of Extension Publication #1322 “Establish and Manage Your Home Lawn” from your local Extension office or from the internet web at  Local experts such as county extension agents, lawn care operators, sports turf managers, farm co-op personnel, etc. are excellent contacts also that can help provide the correct information you need.   

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