North Mississippi farmers came to the annual Mississippi State University Producer Advisory Council meeting with a wish list of research, staffing, and support efforts they’d like to see in the months ahead.

The yearly get-together, an outgrowth of a tradition that started more than 50 years ago under a shade tree at the Holly Springs Experiment Station, now includes farmers, Extension, research, agribusiness, and representatives of various governmental entities who discuss needs for improving the region’s agriculture.

“We value the input we get from these sessions,” said Steve Martin, head of the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center at Verona, where the meeting was held. “The suggestions we receive are an important component of the university system’s planning process.”

Among suggestions for row crop, forestry, and other non-livestock sectors were:

Cotton: “This is a very complex crop,” said Joe Camp, “and we’re seeing more technologies developed around cotton — the whole game is changing, and there is a continual learning process for all of us in how best to manage this crop.”

To that end he said, producers need information on emerging weed control technologies, particularly in relation to herbicide resistance. “We also need more research on defoliation, which is, in many cases, more art than science. We need to know more about how to manage this production component successfully.”

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Research is also needed, Camp says, into management of nematodes and optimization of fertilizer and plant populations.

“We need to know how to more precisely use fertilizer — nobody wants to use too much, nobody wants to use too little.  And with seed costs and technology costs associated with seed continuing to increase, we need to know more about achieving optimum plant populations for maintaining profitability.”

And Camp says, “We need for the university to continue large on-farm trials — this is something that is very beneficial to growers, and helps keep the entire industry in check.”

Grains: Additional research on corn insect control, seed treatments, and starter fertilizer, are among the needs outlined by producer Dale Weaver.

“There has been increasing concern in our area about sugarcane beetle damage,” he says, “and we could use more information on this pest.

“We all know what Bt has done for corn and cotton, and although not available here, we understand Bt soybeans are now being planted in South America. We would like for seed companies to realize the benefit that Bt soybean technology could hold for U.S. producers.”

Iron chlorosis is “a big problem statewide” in soybeans, Weaver says, “and we’d like to see research on varieties and treatments to deal with this problem.”