Special Features Section

Jewell County Record

and The Superior Express Jewell County News section


Twila Means picked as 'Sensational Sunflower'

Milo suitable for harsh, unpredictable weather


Twila Means picked as 'Sensational Sunflower'
Representing Jewell County as the Sensational Sunflower honoree for 2016 is Twila Means, Jewell. She is a busy person, helping others and her community in all kinds of capacities.
Twila was born at home on a Rooks County farm. She was an only child, so the farm animals were her pets and playmates. She attended school at Kirwin Grade School until her fifth grade year when her parents had to find a new because of the building of Kirwin Dam and Reservoir. The family found a farm in Jewell County, southwest of Randall, where she attended a country school until she finished eighth grade. Twila attended and graduated from Randall High School.
"I've lived in Kansas all my life and enjoyed living in the small rural towns. I am surrounded by caring, helpful and friendly people. After retiring as Jewell County deputy appraiser, I've enjoyed delivering Meals on Wheels for 13 years and volunteering at the Jewell County Thrift Shop," Twila said. "One day a week, some friends and I visit the Beloit Residential Care Center and Hilltop Lodge where we interact with the residents and staff and have become good friends."
Twila also is active in the Jewell Christian Church. She is a member of church board and also chairman of the missions committee.
If you need something done, ask a busy woman!

Milo suitable for harsh, unpredictable weather
Earlier this summer a new comer to this area asked a Jewell County newspaper reporter, "What is milo?"
While farmers don't confuse the two, the uninitiated often confuse milo and corn as the plants have some similar appearance characteristics at some stages in their life cycle and corn is the more widely grown product.
Even the name of milo causes confusion.
While generally called milo by local residents, the more correct name is sorghum or grain sorghum.
In the fall season, milo is recognized by the bronze, beaded heads of the mature crop but in some stages of growth it looks much like a small corn plant.
While milo and corn are often considered in this area to be interchangeable crops, there are differences. Both are planted in the spring and harvested in the fall. They are interchangeable in livestock feed rations and either can be efficiently used to manufacture ethanol. For some uses one or the other is best suited.
For irrigated fields and in those areas with more plentiful moisture, corn is the crop of choice. It yields well, responds better to herbicides and is easier to harvest and store.
A milo yield of 120 to 130 bushels to the acre is to be expected. With adequate moisture, corn yields are higher.
But milo is a hardy, water sipping crop suitable for the harsh, unpredictable weather found in many parts of Kansas. While high temperatures can adversely affect the pollination of corn, milo thrives in the hot summer temperatures often found in Kansas. According the Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission, the further west one travels in Kansas, the more sorghum they are likely to see.
Research conducted at the North Central Kansas Experiment Station located in Republic County indicates that, when considered over 20 years grain sorghum is the more profitable than corn.
While corn breeders have made massive strides in their effort to make corn more drought tolerant, milo continues to hold the upper hand.
While milo is not as popular on Jewell County farms as it once was, statewide it is gaining in popularity because of a growing export market. Pat Damman, a Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission director and farmer in the Clifton area, said China is making the world look differently at milo.
Kansas farmers have surpassed Texas and now grow more of the crop than any other state. In 2014, more than 40 percent of this nation's milo was grown in Kansas.
"We rely on the drought tolerance of sorghum," said Matt Splitter. He planted 750 acres to sorghum this year on his farm near Lyons. "With sorghum, we are able to raise high yields even when we have long periods of drought and heat."
Historically sorghum hasn't had the research investment of corn, but that appears to be changing.
In 2013 the U.S. Agency for International Development awarded Kansas State University $13.7 million to establish the Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sorghum. One of the goals of that research is to develop chilling tolerant sorghum that can be planted earlier and better able to capture more of the moisture from early season rains. If such a variety is developed, yield could be increased by extending the growing season.
In April the United States Sorghum Checkoff Program, Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission and Kansas State University entered into a cooperative agreement to increase grain sorghum productivity and expand markets by 2015.
In the coming years, we may see even more of the bronze milo heads each year on Kansas farms.

To go to the top of the page and choose another story, click here.