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Cummings and Goings in Agriculture

Mark Your Calendar For Exciting New Event In May

By Steve Cummings

Go ahead and mark May 20 on your calendar as the first ever fish tasting buffet and cooking contest to be held at the North Mississippi Fish Hatchery at Enid.  

Billed as “Catch of the Day Freshwater Fish Cooking Challenge and Tasting Buffet,” it is thought this may be the first-ever fish tasting buffet and fresh water fish cooking contest anywhere. The program agenda includes the fish cooking contest and tasting buffet, a catfish dinner, a tour of the fish hatchery, and entertainment by the Wiggins Sisters of Oakland.  

A $3 ticket at the door gets you into this event, but you can get a ticket for $2 in advance.  Tickets may be purchased at the fish hatchery, the Yalobusha County NRCS office or the Yalobusha County Extension Service.  Where else can you get a catfish dinner provided by the Mississippi Catfish Association for $2 or $3?

Go ahead and make plans to enter your best fish dish or dishes in the cooking contest.  Categories include the “Catch of the Day” or any freshwater fish dish.  There are also a “hatchery special” (any type fish raised at the Fish Hatchery) and a catfish category.  The best overall fish dish will be selected as well.  

Opportunity to taste all the dishes will take place after the judging.  Speaking of judges, do we have a high-profile panel of judges on board already—Dr. Sam Polles, Executive Director Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks; Commissioner of Agriculture, Dr. Lester Spell; and head of the Mississippi Tourism Department, Mary Beth Wilkerson.  

After all of the fish eating and tasting, there will be a tour of the fish hatchery.  This in itself is worth attending the program.  Go ahead and mark May 20 on the calendar, start planning your fish competition dishes and buy your tickets in advance.  This looks to be one of the biggest, most fun activities in Yalobusha County.

On Tuesday, March 16, the Yalobusha County Homemakers will host a gardening program at the Multi-Purpose Building at 10 a.m.  The program will be conducted by Mrs. Anne Burke.  The gardening program is free and open to the public.

Don’t forget “The Family Forest” short-course starting on March 29.  The three-day short-course will also be held on April 5 and April 12.  Call the Extension office at 675-2730 for additional information.

Horticulture Tips

This is the time of year that folks want to prune. Pruning is one of the least understood practices of landscape maintenance.  Basically you don’t prune unless there is a good reason to do so. What are those reasons? Read on to find out.

One of the main reasons we prune is to maintain or limit the size and shape of a plant.  But if you have to frequently prune any plant to make it fit into an area, it probably shouldn’t have been planted there in the first place. It might be a good idea to consider replacing it with one of smaller mature size that better fits the space. Another reason we prune is to remove diseased, dead, or abnormal plant tissue. Or we might be pruning to stimulate flowering and/or fruit production.   

We may want to develop a specific plant form, like a hedge, topiary or an espalier. We might need to remove plant parts that may interfere with structures or utility lines or that may create a visibility problem. Most of this type of problem could be avoided if the mature height and width of shrubs and trees are taken into consideration before planting. You will notice that “trying out” a new pruning tool or that new chainsaw you got for Christmas is not one of the reasons.

How to prune depends on the plant type.  Most landscape plants are divided into three categories:  broadleaf evergreens like southern magnolia, narrowleaf evergreens like the junipers, or deciduous plants like forsythias, spireas. Each type has specific responses to pruning.  Know your plant type before you begin pruning. When to prune is particularly important. For spring flowering plants, prune in late spring as the flowering season is ending. For plants that flower on one year old wood, such as Rose of Sharon, prune in late winter before new growth begins to promote vigorous spring growth.  Remember before whacking away on your plants make sure you have a good reason.

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