SEGMENT: FARMING METHODS, FARM WORK, & FARM BUREAU

Charles Shuman>UIS Collection S>UIS Collection S, Segment 13

SEGMENT: FARMING METHODS, FARM WORK, & FARM BUREAU,

duration 14:53
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FARMING METHODS
Discusses fertilization, seed selection, seed testing, and soybeans. Followed University of Illinois' College of Agriculture's Soil Fertility program of Cyril G. Hopkins's formula, i.e., lime, legumes, and phosphates mixed with animal manure. In 1929 spread limestone on whole farm for first time. Hand-scooped it from railroad car in Sullivan, IL & hauled it by wagon to fields. Later, he hired custom spreaders. Then, the U of I did not think commercial fertilizers were any good. He started using it in late 1930s because he was using hybrid seeds and you needed more chemicals to benefit plants.
FARM-RELATED WORK
Took full time job at Farm Bureau, so developed new farm management plan. Discontinued seed corn business because the trade was going to bigger operations; only produced 1,200 bushels.
FARM WORK
As child, helped dad select seed corn. Put box by shucking area & when a good-looking ear was found, threw it into box. Seeds selected for planting the next year were stored separately. If not enough found in shucking, then he would sort through the crib for more. University research helped farmers a lot in field seed selection. Went through the fields in September looking for outstanding ears and stalks.
FARM BUREAU
1917 Farm Bureaus had good seed testing programs in lab; farmers chose, numbered ears, pulled 5-6 grains from ear, took to lab; tested for germination and diseases. Farmers in 1920s also used traditional testing methods of ripping up an old sheet into squares, placing some seeds onto squares, rolling it up, soaking in water in warm place to germinate. Good test for germination but not disease. Called "rag-doll" tester. Not used with wheat or oats.
CROPS
His father did not want to grow soybeans in the 1920s. He grew them first in 1929 when took over farm. Progressive farmers in area Bolin brothers, Louis Seass, and W. R. Bone grew them early. The varieties were hay-like and had to be mowed down and gathered into a threshing machine. Without combines, it was hard work. By 1929 he grew soybeans and hired a custom operator to combine his. Raising sunflowers was pioneered in Moultrie County & by 1972 sunflowers were widely grown in Illinois. Sunflowers permitted to grow on set-aside acres in government programs. He raised them in 1920s. In 1929 weevil hurt the crop.
FARM EQUIPMENT
Used threshing machine or hand threshing or corn sheller. There were no combines and plants too tough for machinery.
FARM BUSINESS
Market for poultry feed, birdseed, oil & roasted sunflowers in the city markets. Making comeback in 1970s. Elevators handled sunflowers. Earl Crowder of Bethany started the area production, selling to others farmers first who were interested. Price of 3-4 cents per pound was comparable to wheat and oat prices at the time. Yield was about 1,000-2,000 pounds per acre. Prices went down and weevil destroyed 20-50 per cent of crop. Sunflowers don't spread like weeds or wild Kansas-type sunflower.