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Sunflower Production (05/13/21)

North Dakota growers continue to be the No. 1 producers of sunflowers in the U.S., harvesting 715,000 acres of the crop in 2020.

North Dakota growers continue to be the No. 1 producers of sunflowers in the U.S., harvesting 715,000 acres of the crop in 2020. However, the USDA planting intentions report from March 2021 indicated that producers are intending to plant only 380,000 acres of oil hybrids and 38,000 acres of non-oil sunflower. With the current drought in North Dakota, some producers may want to shift some acres from other crops to sunflower production. If producers are considering changing acres, it would be important to select an appropriate hybrid.

Key factors in choosing a sunflower hybrid are:

  • Oil type
  • Herbicide trait
  • Yield - Select hybrids with consistently high yields.
  • Maturity - Some hybrids may mature 10 or more days later than early maturing hybrids.
  • Plant height and lodging
  • Disease tolerance - Growing disease-resistant hybrids reduces the chances of yield loss.


Sunflower hybrid information is available at

For production information, consult the sunflower production guide.

The updated "Sunflower Production Guide," a spiral-bound publication, includes information about hybrid selection, understanding the growth and development of sunflower plants, field selection and preparation, planting date guidelines, seeding rates, frost tolerance and damage, soil fertility requirements, weed control, insect pest and disease management, drying and storage. The publication has several photos of agronomy issues, weeds, insects and diseases common in sunflower production.

Sunflower growers can obtain one free copy of the publication (as long as the supply lasts) from the National Sunflower Association (NSA) by calling 888-718-7033. Or a grower may request a complimentary copy via email at  For non-growers, the guide is available for sale from the NSA’s online catalog for $15, including shipping, at

An online version of the updated “Sunflower Production Guide” is available at




 Hans Kandel

Extension Agronomist Broadleaf Crops

This site is supported in part by the Crop Protection and Pest Management Program [grant no. 2017-70006-27144/accession 1013592] from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed are those of the website author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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