Al Gustin

The National Wheat Yield Contest

The debate had already been going for at least a decade, when I produced a half-hour television show, titled “The Spring Wheat Debate,” in November 1981.

The debate was over spring wheat yield versus quality.

For decades, public plant breeders (land-grant universities) had developed spring wheat varieties that emphasized quality. That was, they argued, our selling point. It was what set spring wheat apart from other classes of wheat. In selecting for high-quality varieties, the plant breeders rejected those that were higher yielding, but of lower quality.

Al Gustin

Right as rain

If it’s Saturday morning and I’m raking hay, I’m probably listening to the public radio show, “A Way With Words.” It’s described as a program about new words, old sayings, slang, family expressions, word histories and regional dialects. Callers ask the origin of phrases like “a monkey’s uncle” or “doesn’t that take the cake.”

Al Gustin

One nation under God

One vivid and fond memory I have from my years in the broadcast business is a Fourth of July parade in Mandan some years ago. I drove KBMR Radio’s entry, which was the station’s Ford Explorer. It had the station’s call letters on it and a large, semi-permanent U.S. flag decal.

Al Gustin

One good turn

As difficult as this past winter has been, many would argue the winter of 1996-97 was worse. On Jan. 31, 1997, some of the state’s political leaders brought an undersecretary of agriculture to a North Dakota ranch, so he could see firsthand the severity of the situation and offer whatever assistance he could.

Al Gustin

What we grow and where we grow it

The 1950 World Book Encyclopedia, the one my folks bought for us to learn from, includes a 16-page entry on North Dakota. There are pictures, charts and drawings and two maps. One is a “land use” map with little symbols depicting the principal products produced in different parts of the state.

The map has two ears of corn in the southeast corner. Heads of wheat and dairy cows are located in quite a few counties. Beef cows are found in much of western North Dakota, hogs in the southeastern part of the state and symbols for potatoes and sugar beets in the Red River Valley.

Al Gustin

The land and its people

I’ve written before about Harvest Bowl, North Dakota State University’s (NDSU) annual celebration of agriculture and athletics. It’s always reassuring and reaffirming to hear NDSU star athletes talk about how being raised on a farm or ranch taught them responsibility, dedication and the value of hard work.