Sunflower: Black Oil Seed

$1.15 per lb.

Bulk Discount Pricing

2 - 9 lbs.
$1.03 / lb.
10 - 19 lbs.
$0.92 / lb.
20 - 29 lbs.
$0.80 / lb.
30 - 39 lbs.
$0.69 / lb.
40 - 49 lbs.
$0.57 / lb.
50+ lbs.
$0.46 / lb.

Sunflower is renowned for its extensive and prolific root system and its ability to soak up residual nutrients out of reach for other commonly used covers or crops. This species can also take advantage of short growing seasons in case of damaging hail or poor emergence to cash crops. If planning to harvest for oil or seed or simply to attract birds, sunflowers have very similar planting and harvesting methods to that of corn. Because insects are attracted to the bright colors of sunflower heads, pollinators and beneficials such as bees, damsel bugs, lacewings, hoverflies, minute pirate bugs, and non-stinging parasitoid wasps are often found in fields of sunflower and in following crops. Sunflowers also work very well in cover crop cocktails/mixtures. With rapid early season establishment, additional covers under the canopy that normally don’t grow under cool conditions can begin to take advantage of warmer and favorable weather when sunflowers are growing slower. With upright growth and anchored plants in the soil, surrounding vining/climbing cover crop plants can support their own growth by working their way up to reach sunlight thereby providing the structure they need to grow. Because sunflowers can add significant biomass production in just a short growing season, they can also serve as additional forage or silage for livestock feed.

Basic Info

Maturity
90-110 days
Seeds/lb
8,000
C/N Ratio
Leaves 10-20:1 Stem 40-50:1
Growth Habit
Erect
Winter Hardiness
Frost Termination

Use

Primarily grown for oil production and confectionary seed, sunflower has gained popularity in its role in production agriculture. Because sunflowers can grow quickly in summer months, opportunity exists to implement this species in a double cropping system, as a green manure, and as a forage or silage crop. As one of the deepest rooting cover crops available, sunflower ranks very highly in terms of nutrient cycling and scavenging mobile nutrients deep in the soil profile. With known associations to arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, nutrients not readily available to non-AM plants are made more available to other plants in a mixture. This in turn allows for greater microbial activity in the soil and increases a soils resilience. With such a pronounced tap root that can reach upwards of 5-7 feet, this species can be fairly drought tolerant. However, it is important to monitor water use when grown before another crop as sunflowers can deplete large reserves of soil moisture. Oftentimes, sunflowers are grown after large water demanding crops and are used to extract subsoil moisture deep in the profile. Sunflowers are also used to increase biological diversity as well as to reduce pest occurrence. Attractive to the human eye from the roadside, this species is also very appealing towards insects and animals. With such great versatility, sunflowers can make an excellent companion plant next to many other summer mixes and prove beneficial to your next cash crop.

Nitrogen Fixing Potential
0-N/A
N Scavenge
10
Dry Matter
4,000-6,000
Lasting Residue
7
Erosion Control
8
Traffic Bearing
1
Grazing Potential
8
Forage Harvest
7
Root Type
Fibrous Taproot
Soil Builder
8
Cash Crop Interseeding
1

*Based on a 1-10 scale. 1 = Poor : 5 = Average : 10 = Excellent

Advantages

Sunflower is renowned for its extensive and prolific root system and its ability to soak up residual nutrients out of reach for other commonly used covers or crops. This species can also take advantage of short growing seasons in case of damaging hail or poor emergence to cash crops. If planning to harvest for oil or seed or simply to attract birds, sunflowers have very similar planting and harvesting methods to that of corn. Because insects are attracted to the bright colors of sunflower heads, pollinators and beneficials such as bees, damsel bugs, lacewings, hoverflies, minute pirate bugs, and non-stinging parasitoid wasps are often found in fields of sunflower and in following crops. Sunflowers also work very well in cover crop cocktails/mixtures. With rapid early season establishment, additional covers under the canopy that normally don’t grow under cool conditions can begin to take advantage of warmer and favorable weather when sunflowers are growing slower. With upright growth and anchored plants in the soil, surrounding vining/climbing cover crop plants can support their own growth by working their way up to reach sunlight thereby providing the structure they need to grow. Because sunflowers can add significant biomass production in just a short growing season, they can also serve as additional forage or silage for livestock feed.

Subsoiler
9
Surface Compaction
10
Rendering P & K
7
Traffic Bearing
1
Nematode Control
6
Disease Control
5
Allelopathic Effect
1
Weed Control
5
Short Growth Time
10

*Based on a 1-10 scale. 1 = Poor : 5 = Average : 10 = Excellent

Disadvantages

Although this species is known for its excellent tap root depth, planting into severely compacted soils is not recommended as the taproot will not penetrate the plow layer. Planting this species to break surface compaction will be a challenge and may result in severe plant lodging. Another disadvantage of sunflower is its high water usage in summer months. While it can reach subsoil moisture deeper than most crops, this also means it can quickly deplete moisture in the upper soil profile. Sunflower has been shown to extract ~5” from the top 3 ft of soil and 7 ½” from 6 ft. Weed control management can pose a challenge when planting sunflowers. If planting sunflowers after winter wheat, be sure to get good kill on any volunteer wheat as this may increase plant competition and reduce the positive effects of the cover. If seeding directly into the soil after termination, it will also be very important to ensure good kill on sunflower as it can be extremely competitive weed in the next cash crop. Be careful to check out herbicide labels when trying to kill the sunflowers as some herbicides are labeled for sunflower and will not control them. In terms of disease management, sunflowers can serve as an alternate host to broadleaf diseases. Powdery mildew, charcoal rot, stem canker and white mold are some of the most common diseases of sunflower but occurrence and pressure is mild and should not cause major issues with rotation. White mold, however, is one disease that could be both potentially be problematic in sunflowers and potatoes but this is quite dependent on specific climatic conditions of humid environments and high night temperatures. White mold from soybeans or dry beans could also serve as a disease host to infect following sunflower fields. Although not well researched, there could be a few species of nematodes that feed on sunflower as well as other crops like corn. While sunflowers can attract a great deal of positive insect species, there are insects that may pose a risk to the next crop. These include the dectes stem borer, cutworms, thistle caterpillars, and wireworms. Although sunflower has good forage value when young, more developed and mature plants can accumulate nitrate levels high enough toxic to livestock.

Weed Potential
6
Potential Insect/Nematode Risk
7
Crop Disease Risk
5
Effect Cash Crop
5
Ease of Establishment
3
Ease of Till-Kill
5
Ease of Chem-Kill
3
Ease of Mow-Kill
1

*Based on a 1-10 scale. 1 = Poor : 5 = Average : 10 = Excellent

Planting

Sunflowers are a very versatile broadleaf that can be planted at various times during the season. Because they are not considered sensitive to daylength, photoperiodism is not an important consideration towards a specific planting date. This can open up opportunities for a producer considering planting late for a forage or silage crop. If using solely as a marketable crop though, planting earlier has shown to increase oil percent and provide the highest yields, especially in northern areas. With large seeds, sunflowers can be planted anywhere from 1-3 1/2“ in the soil. Nonetheless, strong consideration of expected growing conditions should be evaluated before planting too deep or poor stands may result. If drilling directly into the soil and you are planning to harvest the seed, best yield results have been shown to occur from planting in North to South rows as the heads will lay towards the East. Row spacing of 30” is most common among producers but research has documented similar yields with 12, 15, and 30” spacing. This will greatly reduce seed drop from harvesting and whatever weather conditions prevail. Best germination and emergence will occur in a weed free bed.

Ideal Planting Time
April-August
Ideal Planting Depth
1 - 3.5"
Min Germination Temp(F)
39
Drilled Seeding Rate (lb./A)
5-10
Broadcast Seeding Rate (lb./A)
Not Recommend/15-25
Reseeding Potential
Very Possible

Tolerance

Adapted to sandy and clayey soils and many different environments in the U.S., sunflowers offers itself to be utilized in a wide array of conditions. Sunflowers however grow best in well-drained, fertile soils with plenty of sunlight reaching the large leaves. This species does not demand nearly as much nutrient needs compared to a corn, potato or wheat crops. Sunflowers can grow in regions receiving as little as 12” to as much as 60” of precipitation in a growing season. But under typical High Plains conditions, use 16-22”. Under anaerobic or highly shaded conditions, sunflowers are highly intolerant and will not grow to the best of their ability. Being more cold tolerant than corn, sunflower can be planted earlier in the season with less chances for frost kill. This ideally would be as soon as a small grains crop is harvested. Planting too early can however result in frost injury to young seedlings, yet sunflowers have been documented to germinate at 39 oF and survive temperatures as low as 23 oF. Optimum germination temperatures range from 46-50 oF. Sunflowers are not generally considered a highly drought tolerant species, especially when roots cannot reach subsoil moisture but will normally perform better than a traditional corn or soybean field. Sunflowers are also fairly heat tolerant but in extremely hot conditions, there is evidence of reduced oil content, seed fill as well as germination. Ideal growing conditions for a growing sunflower crop range from 70-78 F.

Heat
8
Drought
6
Shade
1
Wet Soil Tolerance
1
Low Fertility
7
pH
5.5-8.0

*Based on a 1-10 scale. 1 = Poor : 5 = Average : 10 = Excellent