Peanuts: Jason Sarver, Mississippi’s new Extension peanut specialist, says producers at the meeting told him they would like growing area maps for the state that they could use to keep track of diseases and other information, along with strategically located sentinel plots that can be used to alert growers about diseases that may be spreading from tropical storms or other weather fronts.

“They would also like for Dr. Alan Henn, Extension plant pathologist, to continue his peanut disease screening program — which has already provided important information to them.

“They would also like to continue peanut variety trials and expand them to a few more locations in order to provide more specific data about variety performance at various locations. And they would like new cutting edge varieties to be included in those trials.”

Sweet potatoes: “We would like to request more research on nutgrass control,” said producer Jamie Earp. “There were numerous fields this year that were pretty badly infested. Steve Myers, our Extension sweet potato specialist, had some trials this past year, but we need to know more about coping with this weed.

“And we need further research on tip — there’s still much we don’t know about this disease. We also need research on insects, including preplant insecticides.” 

At the national level, Earp says, there are only two sweet potato breeders. “If we’re going to be a viable industry long term, there needs to be a plan in place to succeed these key people when they retire.”

Fruits/nuts: Gerald Jetton: “We’d like to more research on pecans and walnuts,” said Gerald Jetton. “We’d also like for the Extension service to consider obtaining a sprayer that could be rented to smaller producers who can’t afford the cost of a big sprayer.

“We’d also like more research on blackberries, blueberries, and other small fruits — which varieties are better for north Mississippi, and what kind of production can be expected? Also, more peach and pear research.”

Forestry/Wildlife: “We would like to request a centralized database of timber buyers so we can know where we can go for market information,” said Matthew Kimbrough.

“We’d like a study of property taxes and how increases in those taxes would affect our industry. We’d like a study on the economic impact of rural road permits for those hauling loads of timber on those roads.”

Ornamentals: “We’d like more research on the use of edible plants in the home landscape for ornamentals and cut flowers,” said Tim Burress.

“Most of us in the business know how pretty a squash or an okra bloom can be, and we need to educate the pubic on the benefits of edible plants in their landscaping.

“We’d also like to have updated publications on bees, butterflies, and other pollinator insects, along with research on alternative non-pesticide mosquito control — bats, hummingbirds, dragonflies.

“We’d like to see standardized labeling for soil and mulch products so we’ll know what’s actually in them. And we’d like more use of social media to allow us to communicate with university specialists and between others in our industry.”

Turf: Chris Hussey: “There are 2.5 million acres of turf in Mississippi, about a half million acres of that in home lawns,” said Chris Hussey. “We would like more educational publications and other informational materials to tell homeowners how to better take care of their grass.

“We also want to continue the good research underway on fertilizer fertilizer, weed control, and pesticides, but we need a more direct venue to get this information from our university turf specialists to homeowners. We need to find better ways to disseminate this knowledge.”

And Hussey said, “We appreciate MSU hiring a new Extension turf specialist, James McCurdy.”

Vegetables: “We’d like more trials on early vegetable varieties — tomatoes, beans, etc.,” said Ronald Spears: “Also, we like studies on organic pesticides versus non-organic, weed control with 2,4-D and drift concerns, and more information on hydroponic production.”