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He Grows Crops On Set-Aside Acres
Northwood, N. Dak., farmer Marv Klevberg accomplished two things within the same 160-acre field last year: he qualified part of it for the set aside program and he grew a crop of confection sunflowers.
Klevberg used a "skip-row" concept he'd seen on cotton ground in Texas. He learned from his state ASCS office that he could skip a minimum of 160 in., plant four rows of sunflower (or other non-program crop), skip another 160 in., plant another four rows, and so forth. Fifty percent of the field would then qualify as set-aside acres. (The four-row/ 160-in. pattern is a minimum. One could, for example, have gone with eight rows and 320 in.)
Klevberg seeded his confection flowers by utilizing only the center four boxes on an eight-row planter and then extending his guide marker 10 in. This established the desired cropping pattern.
The final yields on the skip-row confection flowers were impressive, due in good share to the four-row concept permitting more outside rows, which in turn resulted in larger heads and seeds. On a per acre basis, the skip-row sunflowers yielded 1,980 lbs. Another nearby fieldłthis one planted entirely in confection sunflower ł ran 1,550 lbs. per acre.
Percentage of large seeds, a very desirable trait with confection sunflower, also differed considerably between the two fields. The sunflower in the skip-row field produced 57% large seeds while the other field yielded 32%.
As a cover crop between rows, Klevberg broadcast-seeded winter wheat in late July. He'll find out this spring whether the early seeded wheat (which, since it world not be harvested in 1982 was still just a cover crop) will produce a crop. If it looks good this spring, he'll harvest it. If not he'll tear it up and plant another crop.
Klevberg definitely plans to continue with the skip-row set-aside/ confection sunflower in another field in 1983. And he intends to insert some oil-type sunflower in part of the field to see if the higher percentage of larger seeds will affect oil content.
While the bottom line on the skip-row endeavor was profitable, the process also had some minuses, notes Klevberg, who incidentally, is also wrapping up a term as president of the National Sunflower Association. Though only half the field was in flowers, his herbicide and insecticide costs in essence doubled, since the chemicals had to be applied across the entire field. And there was some added inconvience and under-use of equipment connected with planting, cultivating and harvesting sunflower in this cropping pattern.
Klevberg urges anyone considering a skip-row program to first check the matter out thoroughly with his ASCS office.
Story and photo courtesy The Sunflower, Box 2051, Fargo, No. Dak. 58107.

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1983 - Volume #7, Issue #2