Monthly Archives: January 2014

Cover Crop and Soil Health Forum Coming to a Location Near You!


soil health

Cover Crop & Soil Health Forums scheduled for Feb. 18th

You are invited to attend a free, live broadcast of the February 18th SARE-sponsored National Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health. Join the conversation at one of nearly 200 Cover Crops and Soil Health Forums to be hosted nationwide by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and Cooperative Extension offices.

To find a forum location near you go to

Please RSVP! There is no cost to participate, but please contact the site you plan to attend to register and confirm both the location and other program details. Providing an RSVP will help host locations make adequate accommodations.

What is an Earth Team Volunteer?


Yesterday I attended the 69th Annual Meeting of the Mississippi Association of Conservation Districts in Jackson.  I was honored with the Earth Team Individual Award for the state.

Kurt Readus, State Conservationist, and Christine Coker

Kurt Readus, State Conservationist, and Christine Coker

So, what is an Earth Team Volunteer?  Earth Team Volunteers (ETVs) work with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  NRCS and ETVs help America’s farmers conserve soil, water, air and other natural resources.  Through partnerships with individual landowners and communities, NRCS plans and implements voluntary conservation practices and offers incentive-based conservation programs that benefit both landowners and the environment.

I have been working with NRCS for several years providing technical assistance for its High Tunnel Cost-Share program.  Most recently, I have been working to establish People’s Gardens, another NRCS program.

Who can be an Earth Team Volunteer?

Anyone age 14 and older.

Earth Team Volunteers:

  • Conduct soil surveys
  • Test water quality
  • Work on wetland restoration projects
  • Develop and present educational materials

…and much, much more!

If you are interested, contact your local NRCS office or the National Earth Team office at 888.526.3227 or visit






Blueberry Workshop Feb. 13th


MSU-Extension Service, USDA-ARS, and the Gulf South Blueberry Growers’ Association will be hosting a workshop in Hattiesburg at the Forrest County Extension Office on February 13 from 1-5pm.  Although primarily focused on blueberries, some of the topics will be of interest to other fruit growers (i.e. SWD update, FSMA, mechanical harvesting, etc.).  I have attached the workshop agenda and registration form.

Please direct any questions to Dr. Eric Stafne at 601-403-8939 or


Agenda for the 2014 Blueberry Workshop

1:00-1:30 PM Dr. John Adamczyk…Update on the Blueberry Research Program at the Thad Cochran Southern Horticultural Laboratory…Dr. Adamczyk is the Research Leader at the USDA-ARS Thad Cochran Southern Horticultural Laboratory in Poplarville, MS.

1:30-2:00 PM Dr. Eric Stafne… Potential Micronutrient Deficiencies in Blueberry… Dr. Stafne is an Associate Extension Professor – Fruit Crops associated with the MSU Coastal Research and Extension Center in Poplarville, MS.

2:00-2:30 PM Dr. Blair Sampson… Update on Identification, trapping, and monitoring of the Spotted Wing Drosophila in Mississippi… Dr. Sampson is a Research Entomologist at the USDA-ARS Thad Cochran Southern Horticultural Laboratory in Poplarville, MS.

2:30-2:45 PM Break

2:45-3:15 PM Dr. Juan Silva, Dr. Frank Matta*, and Amanda Pegg… Post-Harvest Handling and Characteristics of Blueberries…Presenter: Dr. Matta is a Professor in Plant and Soil Sciences at Mississippi State University in Starkville, MS.

3:15-3:45 Dr. Barakat Mahmoud… The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA); The Proposed Rule on Standards for Produce Safety… Dr. Mahmoud is an Assistant Professor and Food Safety Extension Specialist associated with the MSU Coastal Research and Extension Center in Pascagoula, MS

3:45-4:45 PM Dr. Fumiomi (Fumi) Takeda… Horticultural and engineering research to improve machine harvest efficiency and to better understand fruit bruising during harvesting… Dr. Takeda is a Research Horticulturist at the USDA-ARS Appalachian Fruit Research Laboratory in Kearneysville, WV.

4:45-5:00 PM Question, Answer, and Discussion Section

Women in Ag Scholarship Available!


Mississippi Women for Agriculture-Dianne Evans Memorial Scholarship

Scholarship Description

In keeping with the mission “to empower women in agriculture through education, involvement, and action,” the Mississippi Women for Agriculture organization (MWA), along with the family of Dianne Evans, is offering a $500 scholarship for women who are full time ag students.  Students entering their junior or senior year in college, and graduate students are invited to apply. Applicants must demonstrate how the degree they are seeking relates to agriculture. Female residents of Mississippi who are enrolled full time in a 4-year university who can demonstrate need for a scholarship are invited to apply.


Scholarship applicants must submit the following:


  1. Proof of residence in Mississippi.


  1. Official college transcript showing college work completed to date,

and GPA, which must be 2.5 or above.


  1. Tuition invoice and class schedule to verify enrollment in university course work.


  1. Statement (500 words or less) about personal career goals for working in agriculture, how this scholarship will support academic pursuits, and why the scholarship is needed.


  1. Two (2) letters of recommendation verifying why applicant fits criteria.


  1. Application form with items listed above by annual deadline – February 7.


One applicant will receive the scholarship each year at the annual spring meeting of Mississippi Women for Agriculture.   All personal information will be kept confidential. The winner’s name will be posted on the MWA website at least one week prior to the MWA Annual Meeting.

Applications will be judged on the following criteria:


·         Desire to work in the field of agriculture. . . .  40 points

·         Financial need. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   30 points

·         Academic record . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  20 points

·         Extra-curricular activities. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   10 points

The scholarship recipient will be invited to attend the MWA annual meeting where she will be recognized for her accomplishments, and asked to sign a release form for publishing photos.
Mississippi Women for Agriculture-Dianne Evans Memorial Scholarship

Scholarship Application Form

Name: _______________________________________________________________

Permanent Address: ____________________________________________________

Home Phone: _____________________________ Cell Phone: __________________

Email Address: ________________________________________________________

College or University Attending: __________________________________________

College or University Address: ____________________________________________

College or University Phone Number: ______________________________________

Major: ____________________________ Minor: _____________________________

Year: (Please circle one)                Junior                  Senior              Graduate Student

GPA: _____________ Enrolled full time for current academic year: ___ Yes ___ No

Describe your career goals for working in agriculture and how this scholarship will support you in your academic pursuits. (500 words or less) (Attached: ___ Yes ___ No)


Names of references that will be providing letters:

(1) _________________________________

(2) _________________________________

I verify this information is true to the best of my knowledge.


Send completed Application package with required documentation to:

Mississippi Women for Agriculture-Dianne Evans Memorial Scholarship

P. O. Box 9745 (School of Human Sciences, Lloyd Ricks Watson Hall)

Mississippi State, MS  39762


Applications are due to the above address by Friday, February 7, 2014

Vegetable Growers’ Workshop in Hattiesburg on Jan. 16th


HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) – Vegetable producers in south Mississippi can attend a workshop offered by the Forrest County Extension Service on Jan. 16.

The Hattiesburg American reports ( ) speakers include David Nagel, a Mississippi State University Extension professor, and David Phillips with Seminis Vegetable Seeds. Nagel’s topic will be “Profits from Produce Growing,” covering organic and man-made fertilizers. Phillips will discuss seed varieties.

The session will be held at 6 p.m. the Forrest County Extension Office, 952 Sullivan Drive in Hattiesburg.

Reservations and more information are available by calling 601-545-6083.

Pining for Pinterest


I was asked to speak to the Harrison County Master Gardeners today.  My presentation was titled “Pining for Pinterest.”  I know Pinterest can be me a major time suck, but there are some pretty cool ideas and resources to be found there.  Anyway, my talk was about how to use Pinterest, for those that don’t already, and then to share some ideas that I have found there regarding gardening.  To see what I am currently pinning, check out my Garden and Patio Pinterest board at!