Crops Farm

(Jim Shroyer) Good morning, folks, welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer, your host and we’re in luck because we’re at the Agronomy Farm and we’re going to be looking at different crops from around the world with Dr. Kevin Donnelly. This is the crops garden and we’ve got to take a break right now, so we’ll be back in a minute.Closed Captioning Brought to you by Ag Promo Source. Together we grow. Learn more at

(Jim) Good morning, folks, welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer, your host and we’re in luck because we’re at the crop garden here at K-State and we have Dr. Kevin Donnelly with us, Crops Professor in the Agronomy Department. Kevin thanks for joining us today. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, I know you’re a Kansas boy but then left the good state for another one. (Kevin Donnelly) Right. Well, I grew up out in Dickinson County, went to school at Hope High School and I came to K-State, got my bachelor’s and master’s degrees here and then I taught a little bit at Hutchinson Community College and I like teaching, so I went to Colorado State, got my Ph.D. I spent 15 years at Oklahoma State, I had to figure out a way to get back to K-State, so I took a job as Assistant Dean in the college of (can’t tell what he says)… (Jim) Oh, an administrator. Oh dear, oh dear. (Kevin) But then I saw the light, I guess. (Jim) [Laughs] (Kevin) Got back into Agronomy actually due to some retirements here. I’m very pleased to be back and I primarily teach, working teaching program, teach introductory Crop Science Course and I had a couple thousand students already in my nine years here. (Jim) Yes, back here. Well, let’s talk a little bit about the different crops you have. You got a bunch of different crops, exotic ones, so to speak, but let’s start with some oil crops here like Crambe. (Kevin) Okay. Well, what we got here that the crops garden is designed really to use as a teaching resource and for folks to come by and look at. We’ll start out with some oil crops. Crambe is actually an industrial oil crop, it’s in the mustard family, it’s similar to what we might see – canola its close relative we’ll talk about next here, is used more for industrial oils. (Jim) Okay. Well, how about canola? (Kevin) Well, canola would be, probably most people are familiar with canola. Canola oil is considered to be unhealthy oil maybe compared to some of the others, because it has a little better distribution of the fatty acids. Actually, was invented — the name canola comes from Canada, Canada low acid-oil which is invented by the Canadian. Not invented, it used to be called rapeseed and then it was through breeding – (Jim) Right, that’s more industrial. Rapeseed is still – (Kevin) Rapeseed is industrial oil. And through plant breeding, they removed the toxic components in this crop to make it an edible food oil. It shows the power of plant breeding to be able to change a crop enough to turn it into something that really wasn’t edible and now it is. (Jim) Okay. Here’s another relative here, tillage radish. (Kevin) Yes, tillage radish has become very popular; it’s a part of a lot of cover crop mixes. Has a real deep taproot, so it can go down deep in the soil and help break up compacted soils. (Jim) And we have a sparse planning here of Camelina, so again, this is another oil crop. (Kevin) Yes. This one came in probably 15 years ago, a lot of popularity or a lot of talk about it as a potential biofuel crop, so to use it like a biodiesel. It’s also a mustard; it’s very closely related to some of our weeds like penny grass and the mustard weeds that are problems for wheat farmers. So, they probably wouldn’t really want this growing in their rotation. (Jim) Yes, because a lot of these left alone or volunteer would be considered a weed, just like a volunteer wheat or the such. Any other oil seeds we got here? (Kevin) Well, this is primarily our group on the oil seed. Now we do have peanuts, we can talk about them later, of course, they’re a primary oilseed as well and also a legume crop. (Jim) Okay. Kevin, we got to take a break right now, so folks stay with us, we’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors. See you in a minute.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm, I’m Jim Shroyer, your host. And with us, we have Dr. Kevin Donnelly, Crops Professor in the Agronomy Department in K-State and we’re here at the crop garden. We talked a little bit about some oil crops and we didn’t quite get finished with a couple. So, Kevin, let’s take up with flax and the safflower on the oil seeds. (Kevin) Okay. Well, flax would be an interesting crop. It’s used for a lot of different things that probably people are familiar with, but may not realize it. Its one I use in my class, say, scientific names. Scientific names, a Latin name, the Latin name of flax is Linum, the genus name is Linum. So, out of flax, we make linen, linen cloth, that comes from the fiber from the stem. We also make linseed oil, which is the paint thinner, from the oil and the seed. And linoleum is actually made from that oil as well. A good example of where the scientific name, the Latin is used for. (Jim) I’ve always heard that if you ever stepped into a bin of flaxseed that you would sink right to the bottom. (Kevin) Right, it’s an oil crop, it’s very oily, it’s very slick. When you pour it, it runs like water. You’re exactly right, it’s, and then that has caused some deaths due to that. It’s very dangerous to handle. (Jim) Safflower. (Kevin) Safflower. Well, there’s another one you probably have heard from the grocery store. You got all the different kinds of oils, safflower oil would be one. (Jim) It’s a good one. (Kevin) It’s a relative of the sunflower, considered a good oil crop, a very stickery plant. When we handle it, it’s very spinny, so people can get stuck. (Jim) Yes, it’ll rip your pants off walking through it. This is mainly what, an Arizona, California crop? And I suppose some people have grown it in Kansas but this is mainly dry southwest US, right? (Kevin) Yes. And among the plant breeding world the worst thing you can be as a safflower breeder because you have to cross them and it pokes your fingers. (Jim) Oh, I see and that’s like having been sent to Siberia. (Kevin) Right. (Jim) Okay, buckwheat? (Kevin) Okay, buckwheat is going to be a broadleaf crop, but it’s treated more like a grass. It actually is kind of unusual; it doesn’t have a lot of oil in it, a lot of starch and carbohydrate as well. So, you might think about it as buckwheat pancakes or buckwheat cakes. Again, it’s grown in the south a lot but it grows well here actually. And it’s used a lot as a cover crop now, its put in cover crop mixes. (Jim) It can be a weed too, though; it looks like to me it belongs to the Polygonaceae family. (Kevin) The same thing as wild buckwheat or pin smart wheat or some of those. And it will spread pretty much. (Kevin) Okay. Now the next one here is cotton, you know what I mean. We’ve got a lot of cotton in the southern part of the state but maybe some of the northern part of the state, folks that are watching, don’t know much about it. (Kevin) Well, right and you probably haven’t seen it unless you’ve been to southern Kansas, of course, going to Oklahoma, Texas you’ll see a lot of it. Kansas is the cutoff for successful cotton production. We can do that maybe in the south, but certainly not in the north, because it’s a long season, takes a lot of heat units in there to get it to maturity. (Kevin) Okay. Now, one that I really like is sesame down there, open sesame. (Kevin) Yes. Sesame is an interesting plant because everybody knows sesame because of sesame seed buns. But it has a lot of oil in it as well and it’s, of course, it’s put on, one of its main uses is on sesame seed buns. And then a lot of multi-grain breads now have sesame. (Jim) Okay, where does it grow? (Kevin) Well, it can grow here but quite a bit of production in Oklahoma actually. About 15-20 years ago there was a big push to grow sesame in Oklahoma. (Jim) In Oklahoma and Texas if I recall. (Kevin) Texas, yes. (Jim) Okay, Kevin, we got to take another break here. Folks, we’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors. See you in a minute.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer and Kevin Donnelly didn’t run off during that last break. Kevin thanks for staying with us and not running off. Let’s continue our conversation of these odd crops. We’ve got one here by amaranth and people don’t really think about amaranth as being a crop, it’s more pigweed. (Kevin) Right, and it’s certainly is one of our worst weeds, especially the one Palmer amaranth, one we’re fighting now, water hemp its close relative, the old redroot pigweed. These have been around and we know the mostly as weeds. But this is what we would call an ancient green. This is amaranth, this is a cultivated type and it was grown in some of the early civilizations, the Aztecs and the Incas that grew this and they used as a grain crop. Yet, it can be processed into a flour and made into bread products, bread-type products. And apparently they grew this in ancient civilizations and history would show that all of a sudden, it just stopped. And historians have said that it somehow was ruled as being possessed or somehow evil. So, they just quit growing it and it disappeared. But now it’s been brought back. If you go to some of the specialty food stores, you’ll see this as an ancient grain. And there’re a lot of others, I mean we see several of these we’ve had today, kind of being ancient grains. Which to me means it’s something we haven’t used much and we kind of bring it back. (Jim) It has a nutty flavor if I recall. (Kevin) Exactly. And it’s a very effective product. It’s a very small seed, though, so I can’t imagine these folks used this as a grain crop for many years because it’s such a small seed it’s hard to process. (Jim) Well, I’m guessing that anything we try to grow, something will attack it, as some disease or bug, and that’s probably the reason – as the weed, nothing attacks it but as the crop, something will. (Kevin) And it could be that’s why it disappeared. It could be the disease came in and so it is just a very interesting history. (Jim) Castor. (Kevin) Castor. Well, most of you probably think of castor as an oil crop, castor oil. This is actually oil with a very high flash point. Something you might know about is NASCAR racing, Castrol Motor Oil. (Jim) There you go. (Kevin) Castrol – and that relates back to castor oil. Again, it’s sort of an industrial oil. (Jim) But, it’s pretty dangerous. (Kevin) Yes. It is poisonous as well. Certainly, something we don’t want to be – (Jim) You see there’s a lot of ornamentals around that. (Kevin) Yes. You can see here it’s very pretty. (Jim) Okay, what about sunn hemp here behind us? (Kevin) Okay, sunn hemp is really going to be one that’s more in that cover crop area. It’s a legume as well, so it does fix nitrogen. It’s been in a lot of these cover crop mixes because it is a legume. (Jim) It will get big. (Kevin) It gets tall. You would think that wouldn’t be much of a cover crop because it’s going to make a lot of residues. We’ll see that it has very brittle stems. It breaks up very quickly. (Jim) Okay. (Kevin) It breaks down very much more quickly than you might imagine. (Jim) The next one here, we got two different types of – (Kevin) Yes, we’ve got some sunflowers. Mostly you’re probably familiar with sunflowers, and Kansas does grow some. We have two types of oil seed, which is — would be for sunflower oil. (Jim) The black Chinese? (Kevin) That’s the black ones, and then the ones you eat are called confectionaries. We have two brands. (Jim) Okay. Kevin, we got to take another break. Stay with us. Folks, you stay with us as well. We’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors. Thank you.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer. Kevin Donnelly is still with us. Kevin, we’ve been talking about some interesting odd crops. I guess they’re not odd where they’re grown normally. Tobacco, we used to grow tobacco in Kansas along the river when I first got here in 1980. There were a few tobacco farms. Not many acres, but there were a few over there. Let’s talk a little bit about tobacco. (Kevin) Right. Tobacco is an odd crop that would be grown quite differently than we might think of as corn or soybean. This is transplanted, so you start in the greenhouse. It is a really tiny seed, smaller than salt. It is one of the tiniest seeds of all our crops, yet it makes a huge plant that gets six, eight feet tall with these large leaves. Where it’s grown then is primarily in the south. It used to be – (Jim) North Carolina, South Carolina? (Kevin) Yes. It used to be allotments in small farms. It had changed a lot in the last 15 or 20 years. A lot of the small tobacco farmers have sold out or have been bought out because it was a highly government supported crop for a number of years. (Jim) I know where I can get a leaf to roll my own cigar hereafter a bit. (Kevin) Exactly. (Jim) Okay, let’s talk about some different kinds of corns. (Kevin) Okay. We’re going to switch over to our grass crops now. We grow several types of corn here, of course, popcorn and sweet corn and traditional hybrid corn and something called pod corn, which is an odd one. Again, one of those ancient types of corn that probably is relative. Almost everybody is familiar with corn and probably most everybody has got a lot of field corn. Everybody grows sweet corn in their garden as well. (Jim) Now, this is one that I’ve enjoyed. This is one of my favorites of the corn types. This is broomcorn. (Kevin) This is called broomcorn. You’d think — well, that’s a corn, but not so. It’s actually a sorghum, which we’ll talk about next. This is actually a sorghum. What we use is this is the head of the plant and that’s chopped off and put into, bundled up to make a broom. So, a traditional whisk broom which you might get. (Jim) Right. (Kevin) Its name is called broomcorn, but it’s really a sorghum. (Jim) Mainly grown in what years and years ago – (Kevin) Well, (Jim) – Oklahoma, Texas? (Kevin) Yes, Oklahoma and Texas and occasionally, in an auction you might run across a broomcorn bundled around or a machine that they used to bundle this up. You go to those fall festivals you’d sometimes see people still – (Jim) It gets pretty tall. It’s a big plant. (Kevin) Yes. I actually got a plant here. I don’t know if you can focus up probably not there. It gets – (Jim) It gets very – (Kevin) – tall, probably 9 feet, 10 feet tall. (Jim) And then we have some photosensitive sorghums? (Kevin) Right. These are all of our sorghums. Of course, we have grain sorghum here. And then our photosensitive sorghum is one that doesn’t flower out. It gets 15 feet tall as well. It’s become popular and talked about a lot as a biofuel crop as well because it’s got a lot of biomass. Cellulosic ethanol, if we get to that point this should be a good one for us. (Jim) Okay. And then you’ve got Sudan grass? (Kevin) Yes, Sudan, If we think about our forage sorghums, those would be like the Sudan types and crosses of Sudan with hybrid forage sorghum. All are for using for silage. Most farmers would be familiar. (Jim) The reason we have these in here is basically because some of the kids that go through the classes have never seen this. (Kevin) Right. Never seen a lot of this stuff. (Jim) A lot of the farmers, a lot of the people that have, are watching the show now, know exactly what it is. (Kevin) We’ve got a lot of millets down there at the end. Those would be important crops for, not really for us. Much other like some birdseed maybe, — white proso. But in Africa, sorghum and millet are the staple foods much like we would use wheat and corn. (Jim) Right. (Kevin) They are growing a lot throughout the world. That’s why we’ve concluded the millets here, which many of our students haven’t seen them. But African students, they are working and doing research on them. (Jim) Right. Kevin, we got to take a break. Folks, we’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer. Dr. Kevin Donnelly is with us. Kevin, I see we’ve, we’re in a group of legumes here. Those are important worldwide. (Kevin) Right. We’re going to talk about some of our legume crops probably called pulse crops, which are important food crops for a lot of people around the world. We may consume some of them as well. Obviously, soybeans are number one. I won’t talk much about soybeans. Everybody knows soybeans. We want to talk about some of the others. I will start out with mung bean. Mung bean is actually something that you would probably know as bean sprouts – (Jim) Like a salad bar. (Kevin) Salad bar – (Jim) Sure. (Kevin) – or, in Asian foods. What we actually do is we sprout the seed. It gets a sprout about two inches long and that’s when you eat it. Its life only is a week. (Jim) [Laughs] (Kevin) It’s done and ready to harvest, quick turnaround. (Jim) Okay, we have some cowpeas. (Kevin) Okay, cowpeas. People probably think about Black Eyed Peas. That’s cowpea, again, very popular in the south but grown around the world. It’s a very important food crop because these crops are high in protein. They supplement the diet in a lot of developing countries where they don’t have animal products. (Jim) I got a confession to make. I grew up in Oklahoma. That’s one confession. The other is that I don’t like Black Eyed Peas. Never have, never will. (Kevin) I spent some time in Oklahoma too. I didn’t like them when I went there either. I got used to them. You have to eat them for a New Years. Good Luck. I needed a good luck in Oklahoma. (Jim) Okay. What’s the next one here? (Kevin) We’ve got Black Turtle Field Bean or a number of field beans. You’d be familiar with pinto beans or chili beans or the Black Turtle beans, which have been made famous recently. In all of those what we call field beans into one group, and chili beans. (Jim) We used to grow them in western Kansas. (Kevin) Yes. There’s still some out there in western Kansas. (Jim) And into Colorado. (Kevin) – and into Colorado. (Jim) Okay. Looks like next on our list would be guar. (Kevin) Guar. That’s kind of an interesting crop, also, a legume crop. It makes a very tiny seed. What’s different about guar is the protein in it is very sticky. So, it’s used as a stabilizer, like in ice cream. (Jim) Right. If you ever look on the box of ice cream it will say guar gum – (Kevin) Yes, guar gum. (Jim) – as a stiffener. (Kevin) Yes, as a stiffening agent. The difference between ice cream in a box and homemade ice cream is it all melts. (Jim) Right. Where is it grown? (Kevin) It’s grown a lot in California right now. It’s also used in oil drilling muds. As oil drilling increases and it’s used in the fracking process as well. There’s an increased demand for guar right now. A lot of it is imported because we haven’t, we don’t have a good domestic – (Jim) And there are some grown in Texas if I recall. (Kevin) Yes, Texas. (Jim) Again, the southwestern states. (Kevin) Right. A lot of these are warm season crops. (Jim) They are short season. All these cowpeas, mung beans, they are relatively a short season crop. We’re talking about 90 days, right? (Kevin) Yes. All these can be grown in Kansas. It’s just that we don’t have a good market system for all these specialty crops. To be successful you have a market. (Jim) Not the least and maybe one of the more important ones worldwide would be the chickpeas. (Kevin) Right, chickpeas. You probably would not, most people wouldn’t know them except maybe on the salad bar, garbanzo beans or the soft white beans or hummus is very popular now. That’s how we would see them. But worldwide in India and Africa, this is again one of the main staple crops a lot. It’s traded a lot. A lot grown in Australia and they export most of it. (Jim) Like you said, India is a big consumer of chickpeas. (Kevin) We would, like you said, you’d probably see those as hummus. It’s very popular these days too. A lot of these crops are making a resurgence from the health food and interest in our nutrition and food because they do have some unique characteristics that some of our traditional crops may not have. (Jim) Kevin, I appreciate you taking the time to show us the crop garden, there’s some really exotic crops here. I’m sure the students enjoy it. (Kevin) Yes. Thank you for getting this started years ago. I understand you were involved with getting it started back in the ‘80s. (Jim) The early ’80s. Thanks, Kevin. (Kevin) Just continuing what you started. (Jim) You’re doing a much better job. (Kevin) [Laughs (Jim) Thanks, Kevin for being on the show. Folks, thank you for being with us on That’s My Farm. Don’t forget next week about this same time we’ll have another one of That’s My Farm. See you then.

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