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You Are Here Sunflower Magazine > A Look Back - 30 Years

Sunflower Magazine

A Look Back - 30 Years
February 2012

You Know He’ll Go No-Till This Season / Gary Grinaker — “Don’t try to tell John Leppert no-till on sunflower won’t work. Last fall the Sarles, N.D., grower took off his third successful no-till crop.

“Leppert has converted his farming operation to no-till since he first tried it on 150 acres four years ago. In 1981 everything but the edible bean portion of his farm (including 170 acres of confection sunflower) went into no-till. . . .

“The savings comes in time and equipment. Back in his plowing days, Leppert would traditionally put 1,000 hours a year on his tractor. Now his John Deere 4430 can handle 950 acres in just 260 hours, with another 100 hours spent in his John Deere 4020 and field sprayer. ‘I couldn’t possibly put in this much acreage in this amount of time with conventional tillage,’ Leppert observes. ‘With conventional tillage, you have to fall plow, put on anhydrous, spring cultivate, pick rocks, seed, spray and harrow. This year (1981) Jack (Ridley, his hired man) harrowed one day, I sprayed the next, and Jack followed with the drills.’ . . .

“Leppert utilizes two altered Haybuster drills for planting his no-till sunflower. In the past he had employed circular cylinders to hold the seed over the proper seed cups for 30-inch rows. In 1981 he planted his sunflower in 18-inch rows, which resulted in about a 10-day earlier drydown and also enhanced weed control. Alternate fertilizer tubes are used; thus, the fertilizer is banded on either side of the sunflower row.”

NSA Convention Excerpts / “Sunflower Breeding: A Look to Tomorrow” / W.W. Roath, USDA-ARS, Fargo, N.D. — “Present experimental efforts will continue to result in long-term increases in yield. These increases will be small and subject to year-to-year variation. I believe that current limitations to yield lie outside of the yield potential possessed by the present generations of hybrids. Yields in excess of 3,000 pounds per acre have been obtained. While the reasons for not consistently obtaining such yields are many and varied, they probably fall into three areas: (1) pest resistance; (2) agronomic adaptability; and (3) management.

“Susceptibility to Sclerotinia head and stalk rot is probably the greatest disease threat to sunflower. We have identified parental lines with tolerance to this disease. Unfortunately, this tolerance is not necessarily reflected in their respective hybrids. Certain biological antagonists to Sclerotinia have been identified and are receiving considerable emphasis as possible control methods. All of these systems (plant tolerance and biological control) have not to date afforded adequate protection for the crop.”

2,500 Attend SIGCO Day — “ ‘Farming will not only survive, but farmers will prosper in America,’ stated an optimistic Merrill Oster, president of Professional Farmers of America, Cedar Falls, Iowa, at the fifth annual SIGCO Sunflower Day in Wahpeton, N.D., on January 12. Oster was one of several speakers addressing the crowd of approximately 2,500.

“During the 1980s, Oster predicted, crop prices will climb, and we will see soybeans hitting $17 a bushel, corn getting up to [$7] a bushel, and wheat at $10. ‘There are windows of opportunity for you in forward contracting and futures marketing,’ he told the farmers presents. ‘Smart marketing can be the salvation of the family farm.’ ”

Flower Power, Inc. — One Year Later / Don Lilleboe — “[Will] veg oils work well in the farmer’s tractor without producing detrimental side effects over the long term? A group of North Dakotans met that question head-on this past year. Flower Power, Inc., a nonprofit organization with headquarters in Grand Forks, N.D., was formed in late 1980. Its objective was to test various sun oil/diesel fuel blends in totally unmodified tractor engines under actual field conditions on the farm. . . .

“The project included 10 tractors at the beginning of the season, with two more added after spring planting. The four Case and four Allis-Chalmers tractors were provided to the growers on lease through local dealers, while with John Deere, four new engines were installed into tractors owned by the growers. Six of the tractors were run on a 25/75 percent sun oil/#2 diesel blend, while the other six ran on a 50/50 mixture. . . .

“Viscosity — thickening of the oil in colder temperatures — presented very few problems during the cooler fall months.

“By season’s end, 11 of the 12 tractors were still operating. (One failed due to excessive blowby and struck compression rings, apparently caused by a polymerization of the sun oil partially resulting from the use of an inferior grade of lubricating oil.) All told, they had accumulated 6,360 tractor hours. Total fuel consumed was 36,065 gallons of which 13,170 were sunflower oil. On average, horsepower hours per gallon looked as good as, if not better than, the Nebraska ratings for these tractors.”

Rolling in the (Sun) Oil — “We’ve all heard of women’s mud wrestling contests. . . . The latest item now, though, is oil wrestling — and that’s cooking oil, not petroleum. Certainly lady mud wrestlers in the East apparently switch over to oil on occasion because: (1) the fans can get closer without leaving dirty; and (2) after a few minutes of the match have gone by, you can still tell who’s who. And when they do use an oil, it’s usually sunflower oil. As one lady combatant put it, ‘It doesn’t taste as bad as mud, and it’s good for the skin and hair.”

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