NDSU Extension Updates Sunflower Production Guide

Hans Kandel

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.

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Sunflowers are harvested for oil, confection uses and bird food. Each sunflower variety has distinctive agronomic characteristics that producers should consider when selecting a hybrid to grow.

“Choosing a hybrid and using proper agronomic practices are important decisions a producer makes in raising a successful crop,” says Hans Kandel, a North Dakota State University Extension agronomist and co-editor of NDSU Extension’s recently revised “Sunflower Production Guide” (A1995).

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Key factors in choosing a sunflower hybrid are:

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

The updated "Sunflower Production Guide," a spiral-bound publication, includes information about hybrid selection. Other topics covered in the publication include 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.

“The previous field guide was published in 2007 and was in need of major updates, especially on the diseases, insects, weed management, desiccation at harvest and other management issues,” Kandel says.

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 you can request your complimentary copy via email at info@sunflowernsa.com.

For nongrowers, the guide is available for sale from the NSA’s online catalog for $15, including shipping, at https://www.sunflowernsa.com/about/store/mh01.

An online version of the updated “Sunflower Production Guide” is available at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/crops/sunflower-production-guide.

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at kboyer@gannett.com, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

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