Monday, July 2, 2012

Piedmont Farmers Who Have Good Luck with Small Grains, 1950

By F.H. Jeter, Extension Editor, N.C. State College, Raleigh, as published in the Charlotte Observer, July 10, 1950

Small grain has a tough time in piedmont Carolina last winter. Reports of the June harvest, however, show that things are not always so bad as they sometimes seem to be. That’s the way it was with small grain. Combines crawled around over the small grain fields of Piedmont Carolina during most of June. They were separating the golden grain from the chaff. The useful from the useless, and the results have not been bad.

Grain growers who reflect back upon the past winter remind us that most of January and February was almost perfect spring weather. The small grain grew and flourished under such conditions and most of it became too large for the season. Late freezes came in March and the grain was cut back. Some of it was severely damaged. Then, too, in Mecklenburg County at least, Lem Laney, assistant farm agent, says where the land needed better drainage, water stood in some of the fields, drowning out the grain and allowing weeds and grasses to crowd it out.

Despite this, Larry L. Ballard of Davidson, Route 2, produced a wonder field of Leaps Prolific wheat. There were 17 ½ acres in the field and the wheat produced nice, heavy heads free of disease. Mr. Ballard seeded his wheat last fall on November 20, and he used 450 pounds per acre of a 4-10-6 fertilizer under the crop. He also used 80 pounds of seed per acre and his product was so goot that he is saving every grain for seed this fall.

Mr. Ballard operates Cloverdale Farms, located about one mile east of Davidson on the Concord Highway. He has 216 acres under cultivation, out of the 245 acres in the farm. Not only is he an excellent grain grower, but he also has plenty of pasture for about 40 head of Hereford beef cattle. He has some grade and purebred Jersey milk cows and grows cotton, corn, oats, hay, vegetables and other general farm crops.

Forsyth is another of North Carolina’s fine grain-growing counties. H.G. Thacker of Winston-Salem, Route 1, says the new colonial Barley, bred and released by the North Carolina Experiment Station, is an excellent variety for that part of the state. Mr. Thacker secured seed enough last fall to plant two acres and compared his colonial barley with some of the Wong variety planted in a field adjoining. The Colonial yielded an average of 50 bushels an acre and the Wong yielded about 30 bushels an acre. Mr. Thacker says the Colonial also was resistant to disease, in addition to being a high yielding variety. He likewise is saving his seed for planting more barley this coming fall.

In Surry County, Guy Cox of Thurmond, Route 1, says that when a farm is too small for livestock production, and one has only a small allotment of tobacco, then he must do some careful planning if he is to make a living for his family. So Mr. Cox began to think how he could best use his few acres to good advantage. He heard about the market for pop corn in Winston-Salem and so he decided to plant nine of his valuable acres to that crop. He cleared $104 an acre net profit form the pop corn last season and is growing it again this year. In fact, he has secured more profit from his pop corn, from the standpoint of the labor cost involved, than he has from his tobacco. The corn is sold to a novelty distributing house in Winston-Salem that provides the pop corn to operators of motion picture houses.

Lee Robinson of Catwaba, Catawba County, says the folks around him grow so much hay and have so much good pasture that there is no local market for surplus hay. But he has found a market in Florida. Last week, he shipped a solid carload of cured lespedeza hay to a man in Bartlow, Florida, and he says that the income from the shipment will come in mighty handy this summer. In fact, County Agent Jesse Giles says quite a number of Catawba farmers are shipping hay to other states. This means that they have more than enough pasture and hay for their own cattle—and Catawba is a livestock county.

It was only a few years ago however that they failed to grow enough hay for their own use. It just means that this new idea in having plenty of grazing the year around is paying off in more ways than one.

Mr. Robinson’s two boys, Ray and Leonard, also have been adding to the family income by growing and selling strawberries, Mr. Robinson himself has been growing strawberries for some years and keeps about an acre of good land in the corp. The two sons found that they could keep down the weeds and grass in the strawberries by putting down burlap sacks. They said that this also eliminated so much hoeing. They have about a quarter of an acre of berries of their own and they get ever cent that they make.

This strawberry growing, the boys say, is much better than having a garden because the only income they had from their garden was the food they saw on the table. With strawberries, they also have some actual cash.

Burleigh Lowery of Robinson County grows tobacco, cotton and sweet potatoes but his neighbors agree that he is doing about the best job of looking after his farm forest of any man in Robinson County. Otto Owens held a forestry field day on the Lowery farm early in the spring so that all the neighbors could see just how to thin pines and preserve the best trees for timber. But Mr. Lowery is not only interested in pine trees and his cash crops. Last winter he sold over $1,200 worth of fat hogs and this spring he had about the nicest fields of Atlas wheat and Victorgrain Oats to be found in the county. Now he is getting started with pasture, so as to go further with his plan of having a well-balanced farm by adding more livestock. The $1,200 from hogs last winter helped greatly becauds eof the failure of the cotton crop in that section. 

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