Christmas trees strong in South

MONROE, La. (AP) -- Don Reed, LSU AgCenter forestry and wildlife specialist, says everything looks good for the Christmas tree crop in Louisiana.

Reed, who also is a Christmas tree grower, and Dora Ann Hatch, an LSU AgCenter community rural development agent, recently met with 70 Christmas tree farmers from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama at the annual meeting of the Southern Christmas Tree Association in Pitkin.

Survey: Midwest economy rising

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- For a second straight month, a survey of rural bankers in 11 Midwest and Plains states suggests economic conditions are improving but remain weak.

According to a report issued Oct. 15 by economist Ernie Goss of Creighton University in Omaha, the overall index for the Rural Mainstreet economy rose to 37.5 in October, compared with 36.5 in September and 32.0 in August.

The new figure remained well below the growth-neutral score of 50, but it was much higher than the index's record low of 16.9 set in February.

The index ranges from 0 to 100.

Survey organizers say a score below 50 suggests the economy will contract in the next three to six months, while a score above 50 indicates the economy will expand.

The survey covers Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Purdue gets $1M for research

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has given Purdue University a nearly $1 million grant to study ways that genomics can be used to enhance the value of certain plants while making them more resilient to climate stress.

The grant is among 14 totaling more than $7 million that are going to 12 universities and research centers.

The research is aimed at providing a basis to develop plant varieties with higher yields, quality and nutritional value but lower production costs.

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