Narrow-row corn head design dropped

Narrow-row corn disciple/inventor Marion Calmer made news almost two years ago when Case Corporation bought the manufacturing rights to his patented "universal corn-picking row unit." Well, Case no longer has such rights to his one- chain, single-paddle design, and Calmer says he now has "new interest from several other major manufacturers." He claims that his corn head significantly reduces the cost of production, reduces weight of each row unit, enhances conveying ability and handles all row spacings down to 15 in. For more information, call Calmer at 309/334-2609.

Campaign to reclaim rural America

Montana farmers and ranchers are taking the bull by the horns and have started a petition to let Washington know where they stand. And they want your signature.

Ag group leaders in the state have developed what they deem a viable solution to the farm crisis with the admirable goal of speaking with one voice. Their requests on the petition include price supports, antitrust investigations of mergers, country-of-origin labeling, mandatory price reporting, stricter standards on imported ag products, an assurance of strong farmer and rancher representation at the 1999 World Trade Organization negotiations, and several actions to help stabilize this nation's food producers, main street businesses and rural America as a whole. For more information, call Dale Pfau at 406/538-9408.

Novartis to launch new herbicide-tolerant corn

Obviously excited to join the ranks of major "life science" players owning herbicide-tolerance technology, Novartis tipped its hat a bit early on what is coming, a mere four years down the road. At a media briefing during Commodity Classic, the company announced discovery of a novel gene technology, termed Acuron, that will show tolerance to a class of broad-spectrum herbicides known as PPO (protoporphyrinogen oxidase) inhibitors. But this combination won't occur until 2003, if both new herbicide and tolerant crops remain on track.

The company says the gene will work in a broad range of crops, including corn, wheat, soybeans, rice, canola, cotton, sorghum and sugar beets, with corn being the first commercial crop.

Current PPO herbicides, such as Authority, Aim, Blazer, Cobra, Flexstar and others, won't hold a candle to the efficacy of new PPO chemistry that Novartis claims to have in the pipeline, which will be matched with the resistant corn.

"We'll have faster activity and improved residual control benefits over glufosinate and glyphosate," said Dr. Carroll Moseley, technical manager of herbicide products for Novartis. "And we envision one product - one-pass preemergence weed control, with the option to go postemergence - in multiple crops. We think we can do this with Acuron gene technology."

Ed Shonsey, president of Novartis Seeds, sees that "the new gene technology could create the same fervor as the current herbicide-tolerant crops are creating." He concluded the event by stating that, although Novartis will be the lead seed company to offer PPO herbicide-tolerant seed, "it's not realistic that it will only be from Novartis."

The company expects field plots to begin appearing during 2001. -Kurt Lawton

Pioneer takes aim at planter efficiency

In an effort to help growers make every seed count, Pioneer Hi-Bred International has launched a new maintenance and adjustment service for all planters, to be offered by its sales representatives and dealers. Currently, only 65 of its 3,400 sales professionals have a MeterMax system this spring, but the company expects another 200 dealers to offer the service yet this year.

Trained dealers will conduct meter evaluation, reconditioning and precision calibration. They can use the actual seed size to be planted to test reconditioned meters for skips and doubles, then calibrate to the population, planting speed and spacing desired.

A recent survey conducted by Pioneer showed the need for such a service; it found that nearly 50% of all meters serviced in 1998 were in poor condition and in need of some repair. For information, contact your local Pioneer representative.

Lighten up before planting season

In facing the daily grind of life, laughter and a sense of humor have always helped me keep a broader perspective and not take life too seriously. To this end, I recently ran across these humorous, and often truthful, lines similar to Jeff Foxworth's redneck stand-up bit. I must admit I can relate to many of these, especially the softness of a butterprint (velvetleaf) leaf, the 1,001 uses of a loader and hats for all occasions. So if you can relate to these, can laugh at our wonderful profession, and are a jokester yourself, drop me an e-mail at FIN@Intertec.com with some great lines to add to this collection. The best prose could earn you a Farm Industry News coffee mug. And have a great spring! - Kurt Lawton

You may be a farmer if.... *Your dog rides in your truck more than your wife. *You convince your wife that an overnight, out-of-state trip for parts is a vacation. *You wear specific hats to farm sales, livestock auctions, customer appreciation suppers, and vacations. *You have ever had to wash off in the backyard with a garden hose before your wife would let you in the house. *You've never thrown away a 5-gal. bucket. *You have used baling wire to attach a license plate. *You've fibbed to a mechanic about how often you greased a piece of equipment. *You have used a velvetleaf plant as toilet paper. *You have driven off the road while examining your neighbor's crops. *You've borrowed gravel from the county road to fill potholes in your driveway. *You have buried a dog and cried like a baby. *You have used a tractor front-end loader as scaffolding for roof repairs.