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‘40’ Years Ago - A Look Back

Friday, August 21, 2020
filed under: Historical

Editor’s Note:  The Sunflower’s 1990 publishing schedule did not include an issue in August or September.  So our ‘30 Years Ago’ page this month goes back 40 years to the August/September 1980 issue.

The prior year, 1979, was the historic peak year for U.S. sunflower acreage and production, following several years of significant expansion.  For 1979, USDA reported harvested sunflower acreage of 5.4 million, with seed production totaling more than 3.4 million metric tons.  Low price levels coupled with significant disease and insect issues had a big impact on 1980 sunflower production, as its levels were 3.7 million harvested acres and about 1.75 million metric tons. 
 
Duluth/Superior January-July Stats — “Duluth/Superior area elevators took in 636,532 metric tons of sunflower during the period January-July 1980, whipping shipping out a total of 629,397 metric tons during the same period, according to figures from the Minneapolis Grain Exchange.  In and out figures for the same period a year ago were 303,483 and 350,663 metric tons, respectively, while the figures for 1978 were 268,217 and 248,768, respectively.”
 
Cattle Go for Sunflower/Grain Cake / By Sam Heikes, regional agronomist for SIGCO Research, Fort Pierre, S.D. — “In the southwestern South Dakota community of Wall, home of the famous Wall Drug, sunflower had its first good year in 1979 after widespread winter kill on wheat.  Yields were in the 1,000- to 1,500-pound range, although oil contents were consistently below 40 percent in the area.

“Now, you are a sunflower farmer and rancher in Wall, S.D.  What do you do with your low-oil sunflower when the market has been depressed and you are 500 miles from Minneapolis?  Well, your cattle need high-quality, low-cost protein.  So you try wholeseed sunflower/grain cake — and, the cattle like it!

“That’s just what Parsons Rancher Supply has been doing with their portable on-farm mobile pelleter. Preliminary results look very promising, and there is a tremendous market potential for the sunflower cake in their trade area. Parsons’ feedmobile has been in operation since August 1978 and travels a 120- to 150-mile radius around Wall.

“Dale Christensen and Rick Johnson, sunflower seed dealers and the new owners of Parsons Rancher Supply, first made sunflower cake in early April of this year from 35-percent oil flowers mixed 50:50 with barley.  Compared to traditional cottonseed meal cake, they report, the cattle seemed to have a preference for eating the sunflower seed cake.  Palatability was excellent, with an 18 percent crude protein and 87 percent total digestible nutrients.”
 
South Dakota State Univ. Expands Sunflower Research / By Doug Stewart — “This fall’s harvest will close out the first year of an expanded sunflower research effort by a group of scientists at South Dakota State University, Brookings.

“The university’s oilseeds research program has been extended to include work on sunflower breeding, insects and diseases. . . . ‘This is the first year sunflower is starting to get the attention it deserves here from a research standpoint,’ says Dr. Ben Kantack, extension entomologist.  ‘The crop is important enough to South Dakota, and the interest is there.  It’s a drought-resistant crop and fits in well into a small grain rotation.’

“The program came about primarily because of the dramatic increase in sunflower acreage in South Dakota between 1978 and 1979 (from 165,000 up to 620,000 acres). . . .  In 1980, sunflower plots are located near Watertown, Highmore, Redfield, Onida and Centerville, with other experiments being conducted in farmers’ fields.” 
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