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30 Years Ago

Thursday, March 25, 2021
filed under: Sunflower Briefs

        Benefits of Sweetclover Interseeded in Sunflower / By Don Lilleboe — “It may not be of the four-leaf vintage, but some sunflower growers might have clover in their future — smack dab in the middle of their sunflower fields.
        “Dave Presser is one of them.  In 1990 the Mercer, N.D., producer utilized a Herd broadcast seed atop his front-mounted eight-row cultivator . . . to interseed 10 pounds of sweetclover per acre.  He did so on July 4 while performing the final cultivation on his sunflower crop.
        “Why?  Presser had several goals in mind.  First, he wanted to provide increased cover over winter on his sunflower ground, minimizing erosion and increasing snow catch.  Second, he wanted to add biologically fixed nitrogen to his soil while helping increase its organic matter content.  And third, depending on the degree of success of his clover catch, he was eyeing a hay crop in 1991.
        “That hay crop looks iffy.  The ongoing drought in Presser’s central North Dakota area took its toll on sunflower yields and also stunted clover catch.  An absence of late-summer/early fall rains, coupled with a serious grasshopper infestation, provided a less-than-ideal environment for Presser’s [first] interseeding experiment.
        “He’ll try again in ’91, however, as will various other central North Dakota sunflower producers.  Researchers at the North Dakota State University Research Extension Center at Carrington will be actively investigating sweetclover’s uses, too, as they search for ways to help the area’s farmers work toward broader cropping diversity and enhanced economic returns.”
        ‘Trap’ Rows Cut Seed Weevil Control Costs / By Don Lilleboe — “What’s the difference between a piping plover and a sparrow?  Until a couple years ago, Daryl Rott’s answer would have been typical of 99 percent of the population: ‘What’s a piping plover?’
        Now, however, the Fredonia, N.D., farmer knows that the piping plover is a small shore bird listed as an endangered species.  He also knows that McIntosh County possesses the right habitat for the piping plover.  And he understands that quite inadvertently, the piping plover has helped him use less insecticide on his sunflower fields, thereby cutting costs while benefiting the environment.
        “ ‘Trap rows’ are, for Rott, the result of his new-found awareness of the piping plover.  In 1990 the south central North Dakota grower planted the eight outside border rows on his sunflower fields about two weeks ahead of the field interiors — and with an early maturing variety.  Blooming first, these border rows attracted economic populations of the red seed weevil and were sprayed with parathion.  Resulting smaller weevil populations alleviated the need to spray the field interiors.”
        Doves + Sunflower = Hoosier Farmers’ Gain / By Mike Schoonveld — “When Indiana hunters demanded and received a dove hunting season from the state’s general assembly in 1983, game management specialists on state-owned public hunting areas received a new challenge: managing for doves and dove hunting.
        “Since then, the challenge has been met at most Indiana shooting areas — especially at Willow Slough Fish and Wildlife Area in northwestern Indiana, where more than 14,000 doves were bagged during each of the last two seasons.
        “At the heart of our dove management activities is the production of 130 acres of sunflower in 20 long, narrow strips.  Over the years, we’ve tried using corn, proso millet, winter wheat, silage corn, buckwheat and milo to attract doves.  Sunflower beats all other grains by a wide margin.
        “To get the most from the sunflower fields, we target two priorities: First, the ’flowers have to be mature and dried down a week or more before dove season opens on September 1.  Secondly, the fields have to be clean.  To accomplish these objectives, we use short-maturity hybrids, plant before May 1 and pay strict attention to chemical applications and timely cultivation.
        “The popularity of dove hunting in Indiana has increased to the point where public shooting areas no longer can safely provide places for all the sportsmen who would like to hunt.  For instance, Willow Slough had space for 310 hunters last fall in the managed sunflower fields; but more than 600 showed up, hoping to claim shooting spots.”
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