A little lagniappe

By Carroll Smith

Lagniappe (lan-yap) is a Louisiana French term that means “something extra” and often unexpected – in a good way. While assembling this issue of Rice Farming, I realized that I had been the recipient of lagniappe this month and wanted to share it with our readers.

The first instance appears in the cover story on pages 8, 9 and 12. Recently, I was in the Missouri Bootheel sitting in the farm office of Curtis, Jake and Don Worley, interviewing them for an article. About mid-way through our visit, my colleague, Melissa Waggoner, noticed some interesting photos hanging on the wall and asked the Worleys about them. It seems that Curtis and Jake not only are fans of competitive tractor pulling, but participants as well. They both compete in the “Hot Farm Tractor” class, and I got a good education about how the farm tractors are modified and what goes on at a competitive event. At the end of the day, I had my rice article as well as interesting information about tractor pulling – a little lagniappe.

Dr. Mo Way, who contributes to our Specialists Speaking column, also surprised me this month when he added a little lagniappe to his comments regarding disease control. He shares a very interesting story about what one of his professors did during the Texas entomologist’s first plant pathology course at UC Davis. Pretty amazing. Check it out on page 18.

My third lagniappe moment occurred during my interview with Dr. Lynn Kimsey, Director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology in Davis, Calif. Once again, as was the case with the Worleys, we had chatted for a couple of hours, and I had loads of good information for my article on entomology museums (page 16). Toward the end of our conversation, she recalled an experience she had with criminal forensic entomology.

“Years ago, the museum got called into a homicide case in southern California,” Kimsey says. “It was a fairly infamous murder trial. The guy lived in Bakersfield, flew to Ohio to visit his brother, rented a car, drove all the way back, killed his entire family, then drove back to Ohio to give himself an alibi. However, law enforcement working the case found the Ohio rental car the man had driven. It was new and had been rented by four people, three of whom they knew only drove it around town. So they pulled the radiator and brought it to us at the museum and asked if we could tell whether the car had left the Midwest or not. Well, as it turns out, we could because of the insects that were present. It was pretty much the defining moment in the case. We just punctured a hole in his claim that he never left the Midwest. We definitively put him west of the Rockies. In fact, we put him in California. So we can do all kinds of things with insects.”

Although Dr. Kimsey’s recollection wasn’t quite a fit for a rice insect pest article, it was a little something extra – a little lagniappe – that I thought you might find interesting about her occupation.

Send your comments to: Editor, Rice Farming Magazine, 1010 June Road, Suite 102, Memphis, Tenn., 38119. Call (901) 767-4020 or e-mail csmith@onegrower.com.

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