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A Look Back: 41 Years Ago

Friday, October 27, 2017
filed under: Historical

       Editor’s Note: Our “30 Years Ago” page is dancing around a bit this fall.  As there was no August or September issue of The Sunflower magazine back in 1987, we went back in time 10 more years and printed excerpts from the August 1977 issue.  Now, since there was no October/November issue in 1987 either — nor in 1977 — we’re heading back to the November 1976 issue.  That was Volume 2, Number 2 of The Sunflower, with the first issue having been published in August of 1975.  We’ll be back on our ‘30 Years Ago’ schedule next month, with excerpts from December 1987.
       About Those Prices . . . / By Joseph Smith, President, Agricom International — “A number of factors work together to determine what a pound of sunflower seed is worth from one day to the next.  Most of those factors stem from the fact that the great bulk of sunflower oil-type seeds or sunflower oil produced in the United States is exported.
       “In terms of world trade, sunflower oil ranks only behind [soybean] oil and lauric oils in volume.  It’s the principal cooking oil of Russia and most of the Eastern Bloc.  It also enjoys substantial use in Argentina, South Africa, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, Egypt and northern Europe.  In contrast, sunflower oil is almost unheard of among United States consumers, although the crop is a native of this continent.
       “Three major factors affect market prices and demand for sunflower oil:  Location of the market. . . Inter-relationship of sunflower oil with other oils. . . The world grain situation.
       “The best markets for sunflower oil are in northern Europe and in Portugal.  In these places, sunflower is considered a premium oil, either because of its light taste and color or because of its use in polyunsaturated margarines consumed by people on low cholesterol diets. . . .
       “The United States is the only dependable free source of sunflower seeds for the mills that crush it in Europe.”
       Eptam Registered Fall Application in Both Minnesota and North Dakota — “Minnesota and North Dakota sunflower growers have a new weed control option open to them.  Both liquid and granular formulations of Eptam, a product of Stauffer Chemical Company, received registration for fall application on sunflowers as well as pinto beans, potatoes and flax. . . .
       “ ‘The new registration offers a number of benefits to Minnesota and North Dakota sunflower growers,’ according to Stauffer agronomist Dr. Douglas Murphy.  ‘In dry years, moisture is conserved by a reduction in spring field work, and wet years, the chemical is in the field and working even when a grower can’t be.
       “ ‘Additionally, the time saved in spring by applying the chemical in the fall will allow growers to plant these crops earlier and take advantage of early spring growing days.’ ”
       American Views Collective Farm / By Ralph Hayenga, Senior Vice President, Honeymead Products, Minneapolis — “While attending the 7th International Sunflower Conference in Krasnodar, Russia, last July, I was among Americans who were given a quick look at one of their collective farms. . . .
       “The particular farm we were on was located about 50 miles north and east of Krasnodar in an extremely fertile farming area.  It is best described as our own Red River Valley moved about 150 to 200 miles south.  The area enjoys a somewhat longer growing season than land on a comparable latitude in our region due to the warming influence of the Black Sea.
       “This collective farm contained 11,874 hectares (29,685 acres) while No. 4 Brigade (one of the six Brigades that made up this collective farm) contained 2,140 hectares (5,350 acres).  To bring this into better focus, the entire farm contained 46-1/2 square miles, while the No. 4 Brigade consisted of about 8-1/2 square miles.
       “To operate this Brigade required the labor of 103 works, 28 of whom were women.  These workers operated 32 tractors, 11 grain combines, and 4 corn combines, plus other machinery such as mowers, rakes, drags and discs.  As far as crop production was concerned, the Brigade was fully mechanized with what appeared to be very adequate machinery.  It was not clear where all of the 103 works put in their time, but since the Brigade produced some 5,500 head of livestock, we assumed that many workers were employed in the daily tasks of animal husbandry.
       “Although the Brigade had sizable acreage in fruit trees and vineyards, the primary crops produced were winter wheat, sunflowers, sugarbeets, barley and corn. . . . . The records of the Brigade showed the five-year average yields to be: Wheat — 80.6 bu/acre; Corn — 87.5 bu/acre; Sunflower — 2,552 lbs/acre
       “The best yields produced during this five-year period were: Wheat — 89.5 bu/acre; Corn — 116.3 bu/acre; Sunflower — 3,142 lbs/acre.
       “Several of us questioned the reported sunflower yields, but the knowledgeable people among us were very willing to accept the 80 bushel wheat on what we saw.
         “The Brigade Manager told us that at least 10 percent of his land was planted to sunflowers every year.  When asked what the most profitable crop was, he indicated that it was a toss-up between sugarbeets and sunflowers.  Although sugarbeets returned more gross per hectare, when one considered the labor required, it made sunflower an equally competitive crop.”
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