The discovery of new animal species is unusual but certainly not earth-shatteringly rare.
Periodically, scientists will announce that a new variety of lemur has been found in Madagascar or a previously unknown spider has been located in a distant part of Sri Lanka or an unclassified frog has been uncovered in remote India.
Less common is finding a new species in a populated, scientifically advanced region such as the United States.
However, scientists in Florida last week announced that they came across a new species of black bass in the southeastern United States during a genetic study of fish in 2007, according to Field & Stream.
Researchers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission christened the species, found in the Chipola River, “Choctaw bass.”
The Chipola is a small tributary of the Apalachicola River that runs north-south along the middle of the Florida Panhandle.
Choctaw bass possess a DNA profile unlike that of any other species, scientists announced.
The 2012 cotton season overall hasn’t been anything to brag about, but it’s also been nothing to weep over.
While the jury is still out on cotton for this year, from all reports the crop will be good but not spectacular, according to Southeast Farm Press.
The Southeast enjoyed good growing conditions for much of the year, and Texas rebounded nicely from last year’s disaster. However, heat and drought impacted other cotton-growing areas such as Oklahoma.
Production costs have continued to rise, however, and uncertainty in world stocks has kept prices down.
In Texas, the nation’s largest cotton-growing state, the US Department of Agriculture is predicting that the 2012 cotton crop will total 6.1 million bales, a 74 percent increase over 2011, according to the San Angelo Standard-Times.
More than 350,000 acres of Texas farmland was planted in cotton in 2011, but only 18,000 acres were harvested as the state experienced its worst one-year drought since 1895.
With tobacco, the longtime staple of Southeastern agriculture, on the wane, farmers are looking for alternatives. One option may be stevia, a native South American plant that produces a natural no-calorie sweetener.
Late last month, a leading US-based global producer of stevia announced that it is expanding production of the crop to Georgia and North Carolina.
Currently, it’s only grown domestically in California, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
Sweet Green Fields LLC of Bellingham, Wash., which produces and markets sweeteners derived from stevia to food and beverage companies, has signed a contract with a Southeastern Georgia farmer to grow stevia on about 100 acres, according to the publication.
Most of the world’s stevia is being grown in China, but the US is a logical fit for the crop given the health-conscious nature of American consumers and their desire no-calorie sugar substitutes, said Hal Teegarden, president of Sweet Green Fields.
“The largest user country in the world today is the United States,” he said. “We believe there’s an interest in having a domestically grown available product.”