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Double Cropping Sunflower in the High Plains

Monday, January 15, 2007
filed under: Optimizing Plant Development/Yields

Producers who have winter wheat on irrigated land in the High Plains can double crop sunflower and get crop insurance coverage, according to the NSA. The USDA Risk Management Agency will allow a second crop to be planted and insured on harvested wheat acres, if it is irrigated and insured as an irrigated crop, and meets specified planting deadlines. There is no geographic limitation to this option in the High Plains (Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas).

Carmen Egging-Draper, insurance specialist with Farm Credit Services of America, Scottsbluff, Neb., points out that while it is possible for a producer in the High Plains to have crop insurance coverage when double cropping, the sunflower crop would need to be in compliance with the Rules and Regulations of the crop insurance program.

To be in compliance, the producer has to follow the planting dates in their area. For example, in Cheyenne County, Nebraska, the sunflower final plant date is June 15 (for 100% coverage) with a late plant period that runs for 25 days after June 15. The producer will lose 1% of their guarantee, per day the sunflowers are planted late. Irrigated wheat is usually the last wheat harvested in the area, and to have it harvested by July 10 is very rare. “So, to have the sunflowers insured, the wheat would have to be harvested and the sunflowers planted by July 10. I do not see this happening in our area.”

Producers in the High Plains should consult further with their agent about crop insurance in double-cropping situations.

Excellent sunflower yields can be produced with limited irrigation as a second crop after winter wheat. With 2007 new crop prices of $16.00 for oil sunflowers and $22/$13 split contracts for confections, double cropping makes good economics for producers in the High Plains.

Sunflower has fared well under limited irrigation in the High Plains. According to the Risk Management Agency office in Topeka, Kans., 54% of the 2006 insured sunflower acres in the three combined states of Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado were under some form of irrigation.

One caveat to double cropping sunflower after winter wheat is herbicide carryover. According to Phil Stahlman, research weed scientist at Kansas State University in Hays, a number of products prohibit the planting of sunflower the same season the herbicide is applied.

Most ALS/AHAS-inhibiting herbicides fall in this category, he reports. That includes products such as Ally, Ally Extra, Amber, Finesse, Finesse Grass & Broadleaf, Glean, Maverick, Osprey, Olympus, Olympus Flex, Peak, Rave, Starane, Starane NXT, and WideMatch.

Conventional sunflower should not be planted following a Beyond application in Clearfield winter wheat, although Clearfield sunflower can be replanted or double cropped following Clearfield winter wheat that was sprayed with Beyond.

Keep stewardship issues in mind, however. The active ingredient of Beyond is imazamox, and a member of the herbicide family of ALS/AHAS inhibitors. Limit the sole reliance on ALS herbicides to no more than two out of four years in the same field, and use alternate (non-ALS) mode-of-action herbicides to reduce selection pressure from continuous dependence on the ALS-inhibiting herbicide, and provides alternate mode-of-action to control volunteer Clearfield sunflower and other ALS resistant weeds (such as ALS-resistant kochia) that may be present.

Products that do not prohibit sunflower in a crop loss or double crop scenarios, according to Stahlman, include bromoxynil and 2,4-D products, and sunflower can be planted 45 days after Express, Harmony GT or Harmony Extra application.

See herbicide label for specific crop rotation restrictions, and consult with an agronomist for more advice on double cropping winter wheat and sunflower.

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