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40 Years Ago

Wednesday, October 25, 2023
filed under: Historical

        Editor’s Note:  The Sunflower’s 1993 publishing schedule did not include either an? October or November issue.  So our regular ‘30 Years Ago’ page this month instead travels back 40 years, to the October or November 1983 issue of this magazine.
        Senate Committee Bird Concern — “The U.S. Senate Public Works Committee has accepted provisions authored by Senator Quentin Burdick (D-N.D.) aimed at forcing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to increase its efforts against blackbird depredation in sunflower and other crops.  The committee report notes the body’s concern about ‘the amount of damage blackbird, ducks, geese and prairie dogs which inhabit federally managed lands inflict upon crops produced by individuals in fields adjoining [these] lands.’
        “The committee directs Fish and Wildlife Service to monitor such destruction and to develop procedures and practices to alleviate the damage caused.  The provisions were incorporated into the committee’s report on the Emergency Wetlands Resources Act of 1984, a bill which extends the wetlands program for 10 years.”
        North Carolinian Grows and Processes Confection Sunflower / By Don Lilleboe — “They’ve largely given way to more modern methods, but the old tin-roofed tobacco curing barns still dot the eastern North Carolina countryside — artifacts of an industry which has undergone substantial change, yet is still very much a part of the region’s agricultural economy.
        “Sown on fields carved out of Eastern hardwood forests, it is tobacco, peanuts, corn and soybeans which dominate the area’s rust-colored cultivated soils.  And even if he knows there are a few of them around this neck of the woods, a visitor still registers surprise east coming upon sunflower fields in the midst of tobacco country.
        “But there they are — not many, mind you— and confections, for the most part.  Yet there are a few farmers in that tri-county Halifax-Nash-Edgecombe vicinity who think sunflower might just be as comer.
        “Wayne Horne of Elm City is one of these.  In fact, he’s accumulated enough confidence in the crop’s potential to construct a new sunflower cleaning and processing facility on his farm.  To his knowledge, it’s the only such plant from North Carolina’s northern border on down through Florida.  Horne’s aerated bins have a two-million-pound capacity.  He has dehulling capabilities, but a good portion of the cleaned and sized seeds leave his farm as in-shells.
        “Horne plants his sunflower on 36-inch rows, aiming for a final stand of around 20,-21,000.  In a double-crop year, he says, an average to good yield on confection flowers would be around a ton per acre on first crop and about 500 pounds less on the second.  (He had some oil-types — dryland, as are the confections — two years ago that went 3,000 pounds.)”
        The Midge Backs Off in ’83 / By Don Lilleboe — “Sunflower growers in South Dakota and the western three-fourths of North Dakota, relax; the midge shows little inkling of coming your way.  Growers in the Red River Valley and northwestern Minnesota, keep your eyes open: it hasn’t disappeared.
        “Those, in a nutshell, are the implications drawn from the 1983 surveys of sunflower midge infestation conducted by entomologists from North Dakota State University, the University of Minnesota, South Dakota State University, the North Dakota Department of Agriculture and Manitoba Agriculture.  This is the third year such a survey has been carried out.
        “ ‘The midge was not a big production problem this year,’ reports Dennis Kopp, North Dakota State University extension entomologist.  He and colleague John Busacca guesstimate that less than one-half of one percent of the ’83 Red River Valley sunflower crop was lost to midge damage.  That’s down from the 1982 level and substantially below that of 1981.  They also note that cases of severe damage were quite rare this year — and most of those which were found were near or our north of the U.S.-Canadian border.”
        ‘Follow the Sun!’ / NSA Campaign Gets Rolling / By Don Lilleboe — “Concerned about the slow growth of sun oil’s tiny domestic market share, the National Sunflower Association has embarked upon an industry-wide effort — a campaign titled ‘Follow The Sun’ — to do something about it.  As has been reported previously in The Sunflower, in 1982 the NSA’s Domestic Sun Oil Promotion Committee commissioned a study by Experience, Inc., the Minneapolis-based consulting firm, to probe into the reasons behind sunflower oil’s current market status — and, most importantly, to suggest ways of increasing domestic usage.  The study was completed this spring, and the NSA is now implementing a program based upon its findings.
        “Experience, Inc., noted that sun oil has traditionally competed within the premium domestic vegetable oil market — ‘premium’ referring to those oils advertised for their health advantages and/or those in higher price ranges.  This market, dominated by corn oil, has plateaued at about 375,000 metric tons annually.  (The U.S. sunflower crushing industry alone is currently capable of producing 700,000 metric tons of oil each year.)
        “The consultant’s first conclusion was that even though it certainly possesses the qualities of a ‘premium’ oil, sunflower must, in order to register significant growth domestically, prove capable of competing in the much larger ‘institutional; market, i.e., the snack food, baking and processed food industries.  This market is dominated by soybean oil and, to a much lesser extent, cottonseed and palm oils.
        “During the study, Experience, Inc., also visited with 23 major U.S. food manufacturers to gather their views about sun oil’s physical characteristics and its suitability for inclusion in their products.  The most frequent drawback voiced was that of price and/or price fluctuation.  These companies buy tremendous volumes of vegetable oil, so small price differentials take on a lot of importance.”
          “Experience, Inc., suggested several steps — all geared toward boosting sunflower oil’s standing within the institutional market.  Support research and educational efforts for the development and dissemination of technical data on sun oil, said the consultants.  And work toward the establishment of better specifications for refined, deodorized and dewed sun oil.  Finally, urged Experience, Inc., work directly with food industry scientists through seminars and by hiring a highly qualified food technologist or chemist to interact with these people on a consistent basis.”
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