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‘44’ Years Ago

Tuesday, August 28, 2018
filed under: Historical

      Editor’s Note: The Sunflower was not published in either August or September of 1988, so our regular ’30 Years Ago’ page will take on a different chronology this month.  We’re going back to August and September of 1974 — 44 years ago and one year prior to the introduction of Volume 1 Number 1 of this magazine.
       At that time there existed a bulletin-format publication called The National Sunflower Grower.  Published monthly by the National Sunflower Growers Association (a dues-paying group established in 1968), its first issue was printed and distributed in February 1974. Its final issue was July 1975, one month preceding the birth of The Sunflower.
        The president of the National Sunflower Growers Association was Marvin Klevberg, a longtime sunflower producer and promoter from Northwood, N.D.  Marv was an original member of the North Dakota Sunflower Council and also served on the board of the National Sunflower Association in the 1980s.  He received the NSA Gold Award in 1990.
       From the President’s DeskBy Marvin Klevberg— “The 6th International Sunflower Conference at Bucharest, Romania, I think, was a smashing success.
       “It gives one a warm feeling to [be] involved in a conference of this magnitude, and if I had to single out one thing that impressed me the most, it would be the fact that there were representatives from 42 different countries from all over the world in attendance with different political and religious backgrounds; all openly sharing knowledge and all with one common interest in mind — to share this knowledge to help feed a hungry world. . . .
       “I think very few of us realize how an international conference of this nature affects us as growers.  With this type of cooperation we speed up the world work research accomplishments by avoiding many time-consuming duplications.  It allows plant breeders to draw from a world source of seed stocks so we as growers can have the latest available disease-resistant varieties many years before we would under normal country by country research programs.”
       Sunflower HarvestingBy R.T.Schuler, Ag Engineering Dept., North Dakota State University— “The harvesting of sunflower seeds has been principally done by using the conventional grain combine with some modifications.  These modifications, which have been varied, were usually associated with the combine head. If the seeds were harvested using the conventional grain combine with reel and cutter bar the seed shatter losses became excessive.  In some cases a combine with a corn head attachment was used, but the shattering loss remained significant.
       “The usual modifications to the combine head include the removal of the conventional pick-up reel and the additional of steel pans, a convex sheet-metal shield and a small paddle reel.  The purpose of the pans is to collect the sunflower seeds which shatter as the heads enter the combine and those heads which fail to enter the feeding mechanism after separation from the stalk.  Except for the end units, the pans are 9 inches wide and 52 inches long and are spaced 3 inches apart.  These pans attach to the cutter bar. . . .
       “The convex shield pushes the sunflower stalks forward as the sunflower head enters the combine, which results in the stalk being cut just below the head. This minimizes the length of stalk entering the combine.  After the stalks are cut, the paddle reel [pushes] the sunflower heads into the feeding mechanism. . . .
       “Harvesting can be done at a moisture content of 16 percent or higher. Although this moisture level is too high for proper storage, losses due to shattering and pests are reduced when compared with harvesting at lower moisture levels later in the season.”
       Good News! —“Bird damage in oil producing sunflower varieties can now be controlled by Avitrol thanks to a special EPA temporary registration for this purpose in the states of North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota.  The EPA authorization has limited application to 100,000 acres.  So if you are interested in bird control this year, you will need to get your order in right away.
       “All applications must be by certified applicators.”
       Sunflower Seed DryingBy R.T.Schuler, Ag Engineering Dept., North Dakota State University —  “One of the problems with drying sunflower seeds is that most grain dryers presently available were designed to dry corn.  Sunflower seeds are quite easy to dry compared to corn.  This is due primarily to the low bushel weight for sunflower seeds, which results in relatively small quantities of moisture being removed per bushel.
       “For example, when comparing the drying of these two crops, only about half as much moisture has to be removed from sunflower seeds to obtain the same per cent change in moisture as corn.  (Corn has a bushel weight of 56 lbs., about twice the sunflower seed bushel weight.) To reduce the moisture content from 20 to 15 per cent, approximately one gallon of water has to be removed from a bushel of corn while in sunflower seeds about one-half gallon is removed per bushel for same per cent change in moisture.  Because of this fact, often the unloading equipment may be the limiting factor to the drying rate for sunflower seeds.
       “The most worrisome problem existing while drying sunflower seeds is the fire hazard.  Many fires have occurred while drying these seeds, but in many cases the resulting damage was small because the drying equipment was closely monitored and correction action was taken immediately to eliminate the fire. . . . The fire hazard is increased by using high drying temperatures, which result in drier sunflower seeds against the plenum wall.  Therefore 160 degrees F is the recommended temperature; but drying above this temperature has [occurred] without any adverse [e]ffects on seed.”
       Sunflower ProductionBy Walt Ness, Cass County, N.D., Extension Agent —“Sunflower production in Cass County, as well as other Red River Valley counties, has had an interesting history the past few years.  Fifteen years ago, there [were] just a few isolated growers in the Enderlin and Page areas.  Now it has become a major crop occupying [100,000] acres the past three years. This is a large share of our 1 million acres that we have here in Cass County. . . .
       “[W]e have several anxious days each year with this sunflower crop.  The seeding was delayed this year to the point that frost free days didn’t appear possible for maturity.  We aren’t out of the woods yet, but most of the Cass County production seems to still have an opportunity to yield above normal.”                              
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