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A Look Back - 30 Years Ago

Wednesday, March 29, 2017
filed under: Historical

 Sunflower Planting Patterns / By A.A. Schneiter and E. Zaffaroni, North Dakota State University — “Sunflower is currently being grown at or near a 30-inch row spacing.  Solid seeding of sunflower, with a standard small grain drill, has been an attractive alternative for producers who do not have row crop equipment and do not desire to grow row crops each year.  Results of studies reported by sunflower researchers on this method of planting have been mixed, and no definite yield trends, whether increased or decreased, have been reported.  One obvious disadvantage to production of sunflower under a narrow-row seeding arrangement would be the loss of the ability to cultivate for weed control.  Another problem often reported with grain drill-sown sunflower is poor seed distribution with resultant uneven stands.
       “Another alternate row arrangement to conventional row spacing involves the sowing of twin rows.  Twin-row seeding consists of two rows spaced closely together on a wide center.  This method of seeding has been reported to result in increased yields of row crops in the southern United States.  A report in the February 1984 issue of The Sunflower reported significant yield increases in sunflower, although studies were nonscientific in nature.”
Speeding At Planting Can Prove Costly / By Vern Hofman, North Dakota State University extension ag engineer — “A speed range of three to five miles per hour will give the best seeding results for most planters.  Studies show . . . that higher speed with finger-type units cause higher populations, since extra seeds are picked up and moved so quickly they’re ejected into the seed delivery system before they’ve had a chance to fall free.  This occurred with the Buffalo unit [in an NDSU trial with planter types John Deere (plate), Cole (plate), Heath (vacuum) and Buffalo (finger planter)].  It used the finger pickup system and shows a significant increase in plant population.  A large portion of this increase is due to the number of double plants.  All planters in the trial were set to seed 20,000 plants per acre as recommended in the operator’s manual.
       “With some air-type planters, the accuracy problem varies with design.  In one type, centrifugal force, coupled with excessive speed, prevents the seed from dropping into the placement tubes, reducing plant populations.  Other air planters may experience increased or reduced population, skips or doubles. . . .
       “With plate-type planters, the plant population decreases as speed increases.  This problem is caused by the seed plate rotating too fast for the seed to drop properly into the cells.”
NSA Proposes Sunflower Payment — “The National Sunflower Association has requested federal assistance for U.S. sunflower growers.  A delegation led by NSA President Milt Lakness presented the payment proposal to USDA in early March.  The proposal calls for a payment of $1.00 per hundredweight to be paid in generic PIK certificates to sunflower producers for 1987 production.
       “Lakness justified the payment proposal, saying it would compensate those farmers who are penalized by the current farm program for not having large program bases.  ‘In the past, producers planted sunflower because of market signals,’ says Lakness.  ‘But now, the current farm program is penalizing them for not having built base acreage in program crops such as wheat and feed grains.  This is totally unfair.’
       “Other justifications for the payment request include: providing an incentive for maintaining production levels necessary to guarantee a world market share; and keeping the sunflower industry healthy in light of the inevitable transition in farming away from a dependency on federal farm programs.”
What Are Ridge-Till’s Advantages? / By Skip Bye —  “Loren Staroba of Wyndmere, N.D., is one of a handful of farmers in Richland County who adopted this tillage method about five years ago, and is one of a very few farmers to include sunflower in his ridge-till rotation.  ‘I’ve found the system allows me to significantly reduce costs without any sacrifice in yields,’ says Staroba, who averages 1,800-pound-per-acre sunflower yields using a ridge-till system.
       “Besides reducing the number of tillage trips, Staroba has realized savings in other areas.  He does this by combining planting, fertilizer application and herbicide application in a single pass.  ‘I can’t use an incorporated weed control method, so I’m limited to using more expensive sprays. But by banding the spray over the crop row, I offset this expense by only using half as much chemical.’
       “Because sunflower is usually his last crop in the field, it is usually necessary for Staroba to apply a burndown treatment prior to planting (consisting of a combination of 2,4-D and Round-up).  Then at planting, Staroba sprays a 15-inch band of Lasso over the row.  He also applies a starter fertilizer to help boost germination.
         “Staroba’s first cultivation is also a combined operation.  He uses this pass to knife anhydrous ammonia between the rows.  Then, after the crop is about a foot high, he’ll make a second cultivation pass.  If he plans to ridge till the field again in the next year, he uses this pass to re-ridge as well.  These are generally the only field passes Staroba makes until harvest time.  ‘By minimizing the number of field trips I make, I generally shave $25 per are off my production costs,’ claims Staroba, ‘even though I have to use more expensive herbicides.’ ”               
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