In the late 1940s Floy Ivan (10) Goble developed the "Rotary Hoe". It was an implement he saw a great need for on farms throughout the San Joaquin Valley in Central California. The Rotary Hoe cleared grass and weeds from between grape vines and rolled it into the center of the row. The implement worked like an auger, only horizontally instead of vertically and was driven by the power takeoff of the tractor.
Floy (F.I. to his friends) lived and farmed ground northeast of Orosi, California, at the foot of the Sierra Nevada range. Working in his farm shop he designed and built his first Rotary Hoe by hand and mounted it on an old John Deere General Purpose tractor. Later models were mounted on a Ford vineyard tractor. He used the Rotary Hoe in his vineyard with such success that he decided it would be worth setting up an assembly line and offering it to other farmers who were fighting with similar weed problems on their ranches.
Floy and his oldest son, William Ivan (11) Goble, did the machine work, and a nephew, M.L. Wise of San Diego, made the gear boxes to Floy's specifications. Although the unit was never patented, many were built and sold throughout the state. Floy and his son, Ivan, set up demonstrations of the Rotary Hoe throughout the valley farming community. Numerous units were sold up and down the San Joaquin Valley.
Floy had inquiries from tree fruit growers about adapting the implement for orchard work. However, the advent of chemical weed control put an end to the venture. Soon chemical weed control moved into vineyards as well, which brought an end to the production of the Rotary Hoe.
In the 1980s and 90s many farmers were trying to get away from using weed control chemicals because they feared it was leaching through the soil and contaminating the groundwater supply. For that reason, many farmers are returning to the mechanical weed control methods. Everyone knows "timing is everything" and obviously, F.I. Goble was ahead of his time.
by Ronald Ivan (12) Goble
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