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I've written a lot of research papers in college about sunflowers.

We've been growing flowers since 2001 and we're still learning. It seems like every year brings a new challenge. We haven't been able to get the yields we expect, but I'm not ready to give up on them yet. I still think it's a viable crop and with Frito-Lay switching to all NuSun cooking oil there will always be a market. A big problem for us is storage. We like to market our flowers on our own, but sometimes convenience takes precedent. ADM usually takes flowers, but we're the only growers in the area and I don't think they like cleaning out a bin for our small amount. We have on-farm storage, but right now the bins are full of seed wheat and milo.

I think flowers require something like 2800 degree days. They like hot weather and is the only crop that still looks good in the middle of our 100 degree/10% humidity days.

Disease tolerance, standability, things like that are dependent on the variety and growing conditions. Some will obviously be better than others. In 2006 we had what looked to be the best flowers we've produced, but by harvest time the field was badly lodged. We're not sure what happened, but I'm thinking stem weevils. Our crop consultant didn't catch them and I'm not experienced enough to know for sure. I think one thing that also hurt us was a cool, wet summer. I think the plant put more energy into growing tall instead of making seed.

Weed control is also very important. If you don't have your broadleaf weeds taken care of at planting time you'll never get rid of them. Make sure you use a residual herbicide, like Treflan or Prowl, before planting. Grasses aren't too big of a problem. We had a lot of johnsongrass in our flowers this year (which is why we didn't plant milo there), but we did a good job controlling it. There are Clearfield flowers out now, but I'm not sure about availability.

We use a Kinze planter and it works okay for flowers, but I always seem to have problems getting an even planting rate from each row unit, even with the special sunflower fingers installed. I've noticed that larger sizes plant better than small. We used to grow some Pioneer 63M91, but it seemed like every year the seed size got smaller and harder to plant. Lots of graphite helps. I put some in the bottom of the hopper before I fill it, then put more on top of the seed.

For harvesting, nothing beats a JD row-crop head simply because there is always a Deere dealer close by for parts. There are also other machines, like the Sunmaster and Harvestec; both look like good headers. I've also seen a company that makes a kit to convert a corn head to a sunflower header. Some guys around here have used their wheat header, but I think shattering losses would be terrible.

I'll quit before this turns into a book. Here are a few links you might find interesting.

K-State has a pretty good handbook:
http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/mil/Resources/C..../Sunflowers.pdf

So does NDSU:
http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/plantsci/rowcrops/eb25w-2.htm

Headers:
http://www.sheyennemfg.com/index.php?page=sunmaster
http://www.harvestec.com/Products04.html

Kevin
 
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I was talking to our seed supplier recently and we got talking about sunflowers. I was just wondering what everyones experiences have been with growing sunflowers, what they need for heat units, what the disease tolerance is like, stand ability, harvest ability, what type of equipment is needed, and any other general information,

thanks
farmerleach
 

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Sunflowers never yield what they are suppose to. I think thats pretty much a common knowledge. If you raise 1600 lbs and acre or above, I would say your doing pretty well. We plant mostly double crop and are happy if they make 1600. Here are a few tips for a chance of success with Flowers. Check for head moth every day after they are headed out. If you find any head moth, then spray whatever it takes to get rid of them. We like to plant ours later than most people. The first of July is not that uncommon. You should use a row crop head and harvest them fast to keep the machine full. Too little crop and the fan will blow too many seeds out the back. Pre-emerge chemicals are a must. More than likely if your crop went down it was a corn bore like critter. Those borer were unbelievable this last year.
 

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We are right on the border so our season is a little shorter, kinda like Alberta!! I solid seed with a Concord so no cultivating. According to trials by NDSU the yields are statistically insignificant, at least they were a few years ago.
I seed 803DMR NuSun's from Croplan seed treated with the works for Downy Mildew, other soil born fungus and bugs/worms. I think for next year they are seed treating everything it won't be a choice (that's a good thing!)

Usually use Spartan for broadleaf and some Select for the grass.

The reason for 803's is the drydown, sometimes it likes to snow early or you get a wet fall and they won't dry down. So instead of investing in a dryer and propane we choose 803's. They have never needed drying.

We combine them with pans on a 30ft rigid head, not a row crop header. We are toying with the idea of putting those minipans on our Honeybee. But I think we will stick to a separate header.

We don't have a lot of money tied up in separate equip. so they are a good moneymaker for us.

Pharmer
 

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Quote:good info, thanks guys
The manager of the Three Hills Seed Cleaning Plant has grown sunflowers.
Greg Andrews 403-443-5464. Plant #

Don
 
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Quote:
Quote:good info, thanks guys
The manager of the Three Hills Seed Cleaning Plant has grown sunflowers.
Greg Andrews 403-443-5464. Plant #

Don


thanks don, I give him a call, in the new year

Farmerleach
 

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We are also close to the border and have the shorter season. My family has been raising flowers for most of 30 years now. They can be a great crop option but they can also have pest and disease problems. One thing is key and that is rotation. They don't like to be overly wet they prefer their feet dry. They do also like good sunny days they don't have to be overly hot but they do love their sun I guess hence the name SUNflowers. If you have never raised them before I would suggest some assistance whether it be from an experienced grower or an agronimist in your area with sunflower experience. Oil sunflowers can be a fairly forgiving crop to raise confections on the other hand can be a bit more touchy. As for harvest a good set of sunflower pans in my eyes is the only way to harvest sunflowers. You can travel faster with pans with a bigger header and from my experience you get less shatter loss. I personally like sunflowers and always have. If you need some more info check out NDSU like okpanhandle said.
 

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Seeing your from Alberta Farmerleach, Spitz in Bow island Alberta had a guy on cbc radio this summer talking about sunflowers. and he said that 80+% of their sunflowers came from Manitoba. Mainly because we have better conditions for them here. Wouldnt know from the crops we've raised. We tryed them for 3 years and had 3 terrible crops. But then thats edible seeds. some of our neighbord are raising oilseeds and seem to be doing okay.
 
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wasn't thinking about them for the editable market. More something different in the crop rotation and probably the bird seed or oil market. Or maybe just adding them to the silage, still considering options. Doesn't really look like we have a good climate for flowers.
 

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weve been growing them for about 10 years now.harvest them with our 1660 and deere row crop header.we have our own seed cleaning and bagging operation so we can sell our own seed.we also sell lots of bird seed.
 

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we've grown them for quite awhile...3 words for ya...sticky when wet...combine them with our 2388 and an 8 row JD all crop head
 

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Here's something to think about, Sunflowers would take the place of Canola in a rotation. Flowers are harder to grow and dry out the soil alot. Have you seen the price of Canola??? The plus side of flowers is that you harvest them later in the season so it expands your season allowing more time to harvest the entire crop. The down side is that you have to harvest in the snow some years.
 

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Here is some more to think about. I was told that when canbra was 1st proposed in Lethbridge it was supposed to be a sunflower crusher, not canola. Sunflowers will go down to 6 ft in search of moisture.

One of the best crops after the flowers in a rotation is peas because they only root down about a foot, so they don't go looking for moisture that isn't there because it hasn't recharged.

Canola is in the brassica family, which inhibits the growth of the beneficial soil fungal infection (mycorrhizae). Sunflowers do not. Colonization of root systems will effectively enlarge the root area allowing for more uptake of nutrients and moisture. Something to think about in rotations.

Had some neighbors grow sunola probably 12 years ago and it was a nice crop and about 3 weeks earlier maturing than regular sunflowers. Not sure if it is even still grown.
 

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I grew some 2 years ago and they did well, it is a variety that was being bred mostly in SK and I was able to get some seed. They are a dwarf variety for our shorter season. Vermilion, Ab. It sounded like a lot of growers gave up on it but it did work well in our area. I still have some of it around?
 
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