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Sunflower (05/28/20)

The average North Dakota sunflower yield, as reported by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, has increased by about 15 pounds per acre per year since 1990

The average North Dakota sunflower yield, as reported by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, has increased by about 15 pounds per acre per year since 1990 (Figure 1). The highest average annual yield in North Dakota was recorded during the 2018 growing season, with a yield of 1760 pounds per acre.

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Every other year agronomist, sunflower scientists, and Extension staff conduct a random survey of sunflower fields to evaluate yield limiting factors and other production aspects. Some of the yield limiting factors are provided in Table 1. Besides drought, a producer can manage the other three factors (plant spacing, disease and weeds).

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To maximize sunflower yields, producers are encouraged to pay attention to details.

 

Management suggestions are:

  1) Select the best hybrid for the field (see ND Sunflower trial results A652-19)

  2) Use seed with a high germination percent and uniform seed size

  3) Use fungicide and/or insecticide seed treatments when needed

  4) Fertilizer appropriately and use the sunflower nitrogen calculator

  5) Plant now to early June

  6) Aim for a correct plant population (20,000 to 22,000 established oil sunflower hybrid plants per acre on heavy soil and 16,000 to 18,000 on lighter soil and in low rainfall areas)

  7) Plant seeds at 1.5 to 2 inches depth if the soil moisture is adequate (always seed to moisture)

  8) Check planter adjustments, check depth and seed drop to make sure there will be no gaps between seeds while planting

  9) Apply herbicides following the label and recommended rates for weed control

10) Scout for insect problems and use integrated pest management to control the insect pests

11) Monitor for sunflower diseases and apply foliar fungicides when needed

12) Reduce bird feeding of the sunflower seeds

 

Hans Kandel

Extension Agronomist Broadleaf Crops

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