Farm Progress

Looking Back: Plant pathologist said weather conditions had not been ideal for spread, recommended scouting.

April 24, 2017

2 Min Read
SORGHUM ERGOT: Sorghum ergot, a fungal disease, appears when weather conditions are conducive to its spread from Texas. The disease was a worry but not a major threat back in 1997.

By Jacky Goerzen

Sorghum ergot, a fungal disease in sorghum, arrived in the Western Hemisphere in 1995, but by 1997, 20 years ago, it was a disease that was causing angst, especially in seed production fields.

Kansas State University Extension plant pathologist Doug Jardine said in June of 1997 that he wasn't expecting an outbreak in that cropping season simply because the weather conditions had not been ideal for it to spread from Texas fields into Kansas.

He did recommend scouting for a couple of weeks after flowering. Forage sorghums infected with the fungus can serve as a reservoir of infection for sorghum harvested for grain, he warned. Jardine recommended that forage sorghum producers cut the forage just before or at heading to minimize damage.

70 years ago
Newcastle disease in poultry made an appearance in Kansas for the first time in June of 1947. The poultry disease laboratory at K-State confirmed the minor outbreak and warned poultry producers to be on the lookout for symptoms of the disease which is highly contagious and attacks chickens, turkeys, pigeons, geese, ducks and other barnyard fowl.

The disease can be spread by contact with infected birds or by unsterilized, previously used feed bags and bird and egg crates or by trucks that have not been disinfected. K-State recommended the prohibition of poultry shows in infected areas.

60 years ago
Ed Nordstrom of Clay Center was celebrating 30 years of making a profit from turkeys in June of 1957, a circumstance that he credited to avoiding an outbreak of disease.

Like most turkey producers, he started small with only about 25 to 30 poults and began increasing his flock so that by 1957 he had 4,000 birds and ranged them on 80 acres of sudangrass and bromegrass. He said the worst problem he faced was attacks by owls.

50 years ago
Mosquito season in Kansas meant a danger of encephalomyelitis or "sleeping sickness" in horses, and horse owners were being urged to vaccinate their animals back in June of 1967. Veterinarians reported the first cases of the deadly disease can come as early as April, and the danger persists through the summer with cases increasing to a peak in September.

30 years ago
With reduced tillage and no-till becoming common practices in 1987, farmers were looking for ways to overcome the problems of planting into heavy residue. New equipment coming into the marketplace offered changes in coulters, openers, gauge wheels, press wheels and down weights to help overcome the problems.

Experts of the day recommended hoe drills for wet conditions; hard, dry conditions; or heavy clay soils but warned they are best suited to big, flat fields. Disk drills work best on mellow soils with some moisture, but not too much. They were also recommended for hilly or terraced land. Air seeders were just becoming popular in the marketplace.

Goerzen is executive director of Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita.

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