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

Sunflower Magazine

A Look Back - 30 Years
February 2013

A Kansas History Lesson — “Ever wondered how the sunflower came to be the state flower of Kansas? H.A. Stephens, writing in an issue of The Kansas School Naturalist, published by Emporia (Kan.) State University, offered this explanation:

“ ‘According to an article published in the Kansas City Star on August 16, 1948, back in 1880 Noble Prentis, a well-known writer and editor, wrote in the Atchison Champion that the sunflower ought to be made the emblem of our state. Nothing further was done about it.

“ ‘But in 1901, George P. Morehouse, a Senator from Council Grove, attended the big annual rodeo and annual picnic in Colorado Springs (Colo.), where each nearby state had a special day. The Missourians came out wearing buttons ‘You’ll have to show me.’ But the Kansans had made no such preparations, so Morehouse and his friends borrowed a wagon and team, went out on the prairies east of Colorado Springs and brought back a wagon load of sunflowers. Each Kansan registering at the event was given one of the flowers to wear at the meeting. This started the ball rolling, and in 1903 the Legislature voted to make sunflower our state emblem.’ ”

Research Explores S.E. Sunflower Potential — “Sunflower may never become a major full-season crop in the Southeast, but Robert Sojka believes it shows enough potential for inclusion in double- or multicropping systems to justify some needed research. The USDA soil scientist and his colleagues at the Coastal Plains Research Center in Florence, S.C., are now entering their third year of evaluation of sunflower for cropping systems in the region.

“Sojka notes that some Georgia/South Carolina farmers tried sunflower on a full-season basis a few years ago; but promises and expectations of outstanding yields did not, for the most part, come to pass. And as a result, interest in the crop has waned.

“ ‘Also, when planted as a primary crop in mid-season (mid-May to late June), insect and disease pressures in our hot and humid environment can be severe,’ Sojka adds. ‘And despite popular conception by Northerners, our environment is also subject to frequent severe drought stress. . . .

“With a growing season normally stretching from late February to late November, double- and multicropping becomes a way for the region’s farmers to make maximum use of their land — and, Sojka suggests, provides an opportunity for sunflower to gain a foothold . . . . Sojka and his co-workers are currently exploring two double-cropping systems: early corn followed by summer-planted sunflower, and early sunflower followed by summer-planted soybeans.”

Mustard: Persistent Sunflower Foe / By Don Lilleboe — “Though the state of the art of mustard control has progressed beyond hand weeding, the problem itself is certainly still with us. A 1979 North Dakota State University survey found wild mustard to be the second most common weed problem in that state’s cultivated fields (behind foxtail). Among sunflower fields specifically, the survey found that 75 percent of those checked statewide contained some mustard.

“John Nalewaja, NDSU weed scientist, regards wild mustard as presently the most threatening weed to North Dakota’s sunflower crop — and this in a state which produces some 70 percent of the nation’s sunflower. Though foxtail is more prevalent across the state, Nalewaja suggests that it is not as great a threat to crop yields due to the wide range of available control measures.

“At present, the sunflower grower’s arsenal for battling wild mustard essentially consists of the herbicide Amiben (preemergence by itself or in tank mixes with various preplant incorporated herbicides) and/or mechanical control via such implements as the harrow or rotary hoe. A postemergent herbicide, Betanex, received a restricted Experimental Use Permit (EUP) on sunflower in Minnesota and North Dakota last year and will likely be available under an emergency use permit in 1983.”

Sunflower’s Been a Profit Maker for This Texan / By Don Lilleboe —

“ ‘We’ve had tough times here for the last four years, but I’ve made a little money on sunflower every year,’ states Robert Gallman of Friona, Texas. Yet, though it’s been a paying crop, Gallman has no plans to significantly expand his sunflower acreage.

“His rotation schedule is the reason why. Part of sunflower’s value for Gallman has been that it fits in well with his other crops: cotton, wheat, seed grain sorghum and corn. In order to keep his rotation in balance, he prefers to not plant sunflower more than once every four years on the same ground.

“Control of Johnson grass, one of the main problem weeds in his region, has been another asset of sunflower, according to Gallman. ‘I’ve cleaned up farms in half the time it would take me to clean them by planting cotton and using a rope wick,’ he says. ‘Sunflower shades the Johnson grass, and it hardly heads out.’ ”

SIGCO Event Draws 1,800 — “William Lesher, USDA economist and chief architect of the payment-in-kind (PIK) program, was a featured speaker at SIGCO Research’s annual Sunflower Day, held in Jamestown, N.D., for the first time. Approximately 1,800 farmers and other visitors heard the day’s speakers and viewed commercial exhibits. . . . In a sample survey taken at the Sunflower Day, 90 percent of the farmers responding said they would likely participate in the PIK program. The other 10 percent wanted more information before indicating.

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