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30 Years Ago - A Look Back

Monday, March 26, 2018
filed under: Historical

      Emphasizing Rotation for Cropping Success / By Joe Isakson and Larry Kleingartner — “Two longtime South Dakota sunflower growers are convinced that rotation is the key to a successful farming operation.
       “Despite the rigidities of the federal farm program, the Schilder family of Faulkton, S.D., has maintained a four-year rotation which includes sunflower.  The father and three-son operation in north central South Dakota believes in rotation and finds that sunflower is especially an excellent choice for maintaining good weed control.
       “The Schilders use Treflan to control grassy weeds such as pigeongrass in their sunflower and find that there is often enough carryover to control that weed in their wheat the following year.
       “Another South Dakota farming family, the Neubergers of Clark, also finds that sunflower provides an excellent opportunity to clean up their ground.  ‘Most growers use 1.5 pints per acre,’ says Vance Neuberger, ‘but we go with two pints because it gives us enough carryover in the following year to gain pigeongrass control.’  Neuberger says he finds that the pigeongrass control the following year is worth the additional cost. . . .
       “Rotation is music to the ears of USDA researcher Al Black at the Northern Great Plains Research Center at Mandan, N.D.  Rotation is the key to good management, according to Black, and weed control is one of several elements to consider in crop rotation.
       “ ‘We have been seeing an acceleration of leaf diseases in small grains over the last several years in the Northern Great Plains, and diseases really took a toll on some durum and wheat yields in 1987,’ according to Black.  Weather in 1986 and 1987 was conducive to leaf disease development.  But Black says the farm program, which has removed farmer flexibility to practice good crop rotation, must also share the blame.  Black states that farmers with a high percentage of wheat and barley base who are forced to plant wheat on wheat can expect to see more disease in the future when conditions are right. . . .
       “Using a diverse crop [such] as sunflower, safflower or flax every third or fourth year really breaks the disease, weed and insect cycles,’ he says.  This is no different than the experience of sunflower producers in the late ’70s and early ’80s who planted sunflower on sunflower and soon had an insect and disease cycle of serious proportions.”
       Nebraskan Likes Sunflower Crop Potential / By Larry Stalcup — “ ‘Around here, sunflower is the dryland farmer’s soybean.’  That statement by Tom Bargen illustrates his dedication to sunflower production in Nuckolls County, Neb., located on the Kansas border about 60 miles southeast of Grand Island.  He believes sunflower could become a major crop for this region of Kansas and Nebraska along with wheat, corn, milo and soybeans.
       “ ‘It’s just the beginning for sunflower around here,’ says Bargen, who resides on a farm outside Nora, Neb.  ‘I would like to see a quarter to a third of our acres planted in sunflower.  And that’s really not out of the question.’ . . .
       “Although rainfall is sometimes short following wheat harvest, Bargen likes to plant sunflower as a double crop with wheat. . . . There are several reasons for double-cropping with wheat, Bargen stresses, and one is that sunflower normally gets the most out of the soil and its nutrients.  ‘Wheat uses fertilizer only about a foot in the ground,’ he says.  ‘Sunflower will go into the ground another six feet.  It will use all that’s there.  Sunflower also goes down and gets the water, whereas most other crops can’t.
         “ ‘There’s no reason why that ground shouldn’t go ahead and be used.  Otherwise it’s going to lay there until next spring when we plant milo.  With low commodity prices and high land prices, a guy has to get something out of the ground.  And sunflower is the answer,’ according to Bargen.”
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