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‘40’ Years Ago

Wednesday, August 31, 2022
filed under: Historical

        Editor’s Note:  The Sunflower’s 1992 publishing schedule did not include an issue in either August or September.  So our regular ’30 Years Ago’ page this month instead travels back 40 years, to the August/September 1982 issue.
        Editorial Comments / By Don Lilleboe — “In chatting with a young sunflower grower recently, I made the observation that the American farmer probably receives more advice from others on how to do his job than does any other occupation I could think of.  This grower agreed, then added: ‘But it doesn’t take me long to sift through it all and determine what will be useful to me.’
        “That’s the key, of course.  What part of all the information and advice received by the farmer from university researchers, extension agents, agricultural publications, mass media, production and marketing consultants, seed and chemical companies, etc., has direct application for his own farming operation?
        “While these sources are well intentioned and provide a lot of valuable information, it’s obviously up to Mr. Farmer to ferret out what he believes will be of use to him.
        “A prime example of this would be yield trials.  Trials conducted at a certain site may be interesting, but if your farm is 300 miles away from that particular site, those results may not be representative of your own production conditions.  And that’s why, of course, seed and chemical companies and state experiment stations have test plots scattered all over the countryside.”
        Housekeeping, Vigilance:  Keys to Drying ’Flowers / By Don Lilleboe — “Sunflower growers across the Northern Plains commonly harvest their crop at 15-18 percent moisture, opting to dry down the seeds rather than leave them exposed longer than necessary to blackbirds and late fall winds, rain or snow.  With this year’s crop going in the ground a bit later than usual, one’s drying operation could — depending on the fall weather — take on an especially important role.
        “Wanting to get the job done as quickly as possible, most Northern producers utilize high-temperature dryers, as opposed to taking moisture levels down more slowly through low-temperature systems.  Veterans of high-temperature sunflower drying will tell you that the keys to the trade are vigilance and housekeeping — both of which are aimed at reducing the threat of fire.
        “Small hairs or fibers are the main culprits.  They frequently get rubbed loose during handling and end up floating in the air around the dryer.  When drawn through fans and burners, these fibers can easily ignite and, upon making contact with other debris [and/or the] seeds themselves, result in a fire. . . .
        “ ‘Housekeeping is still the major factor’ in preventing a fire, says Ken Hellevang, extension agricultural engineer at North Dakota State University.  ‘Those growers I have visited with (who have had sunflower dryer fires) generally say they weren’t getting the dryer cleaned out as well as they should have, accumulated dust or other material in the dryer, and then caught on fire.’  Hellevang advises operators to clean out their dryer at least once a day while handling sunflower.”
        Malathion Registration Imminent — “As this issue of The Sunflower went to press, registration of the insecticide malathion on stored sunflower seed still looked imminent. ?The proposed rule was to be published in the Federal Register in August.  If there were no comments from the public, the final rule was to be published approximately 15 days later.  The Sunflower will carry an update in its October/November issue; for information in the interim, contact local suppliers or your state university.”
        Sunflower Hulls — Colorant for Our Foods? / By Debbie Jahner — “Sunflower may one day paint the world with colors other than yellow.  It may, in the future, shade our food products with purples and reds,
        “Unrealistic, you say?
        “Researchers at the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station in Fargo think otherwise.  Agronomists Greg Fox and Jarvis Brosz and food scientist/nutritionist Mark Dreher have isolated a pigment in sunflower hulls capable of producing different colors, depending on the pH of the food (pH reading referring to the relative acidity or alkalinity of a particular food).
        “The pigments, called ‘anthocyanins,’ exist in the hulls of certain purple-hulled varieties of sunflower.  The unimproved varieties tested by the North Dakota researchers came from Europe and the southwestern United States.
        “The discovery of the pigment was purely accidental. ?Fox and Brosz were examining research plots for blackbird-resistant varieties when a purple coloring was noticed on some of the plants.  The color seemed to bleed from the hulls.  They approached Dreher, and an ensuing investigation isolated a pigment commonly used in industrial food coloring.”
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