Everyone who has ever met retired University of Illinois weed scientist Marshal McGlamery knows about the Santa Claus weed control system: When all else fails, you simply "hoe, hoe, hoe."
Go ahead and groan, but hand hoes have become a hot commodity. Chopping crews are now a common sight in Southern states, where weeds have become resistant to popular weed killers.
This past summer, Arkansas weed consultant Ford Baldwin heard farmers bragging on the Rogue hoe made by Prohoe Manufacturing. This brand of heavy-duty field hoe is so popular, they were temporarily back ordered this past summer. Baldwin says they might appear as gifts under the Christmas tree this year.
Manufacturer Loren Kisby would be glad to make that happen. He and his wife, Judy, made a prototype of the hoe to show to relatives for Christmas 1990. Encouraged to continue, they started their business in a vacant chicken coop on their farm. Each Rogue hoe is handcrafted from recycled agricultural disk blades and locally sourced hardwood handles.
"Farmers will understand the quality of tempered steel in a disk blade," Kisby says. "It is strong and holds an edge." Fire-fighting tools make up 40% of his business, or did until weeds went wild. Sharpened on three sides, the hoes are also popular for rouging seed corn.
Prohoe has expanded, now occupying the building of a local school that closed in Munden, Kan. "We’re all about recycling," Kisby says.
University of Illinois weed scientist Aaron Hager owns the 70F model (7" wide), which is a typical choice in the cotton field. The company sells a range of sizes of field, garden, scuffle/collinear and short-handled hoes.
The Rogue hoe can be found in select hardware stores or ordered from the factory (800-536-5450, www.prohoe.com) or distributor (Larry Pierce, 417-962-5091, www.roguehoe.com).