Article Archives
30 Years Ago

Saturday, March 23, 2024
filed under: Historical

        Planting Dates for the Northland / By Don Lilleboe — “When it comes to sunflower planting dates in more-northerly areas, Mother Nature’s unpredictable deadlines can make one season’s ‘smart’ decision a yield-robbing, expensive proposition the next year.  The wet and cool 1992 and 1993 growing seasons in North Dakota and northern Minnesota provided a grim example:  The odds were stacked against any sunflower field planted in late May/early June — and the proof showed up in the form of many poor yields, light test weights, lousy oils — and a number of fields that never came even close to physiological maturity.
        “During the 1980s, North Dakota State University specialists commonly encouraged growers to plant sunflower during the latter half of May to both optimize yield and minimize problems with certain insects.  That approach works well in a season with plenty of warm temperatures and an average or later-than-average first killing frost.  But in a year like 1993, when heat units simply were in short supply, the outcome can be devastating.
        “NDSU now says May 15-25 will, in most years, be the most-ideal planting window for sunflower in North Dakota.  For more northerly areas of the state (roughly in a line north of Highway 200), growers should be looking at May 10-20, while south of that line, May 20-30 would be most appropriate.  These planting windows, notes extension agronomist Duane Berglund, should minimize the chances of frost damage on both ends of the production season and result in overall improved yields.
        “Getting the sunflower crop out of the ground as quickly as possible and off to a good start is always important — but especially so in a year when one is ‘pressing the edge’ of the planting window.  Berglund lists several tips for aiding sunflower emergence and eventual on-time plant maturity if growers are concerned about the lateness of their planting date:
        “Consider Shallower Planting — ‘Normally, most growers plant their sunflower 1.75 to 2.5 inches deep,’ the NDSU agronomist notes.  ‘We’re going into this season with good soil moisture; and where that’s the case, I don’t see any reason why we have to go much deeper than 1.0 to 1.5 inches, assuming those seeds are being placed a half inch into moisture.’
        “Select Early Maturing Hybrids — [T]he earliest hybrids may not have the best yield potential; but under short-season conditions, they obviously have a better chance of reaching complete physiological maturity.
        “Utilize Starter Fertilizer — A balanced fertility program is always the best route, and that can include a boost at planting.  ‘With sunflower in cool soils, you want to get the crop off to a fast start,’ Berglund emphasizes.  ‘Phosphorus as a starter fertilizer is helpful for a quick start, for enhancing seedling vigor.’
        “Hike the Seeding Rate — ‘If you’re planting late, plant heavier — assuming you have decent moisture,’ Berglund suggests.  ‘If you plant too low a population when planting late, you may run into some drydown problems.’
        “No-Till or Minimum-Till Conditions — [Berglund] advises no-till or minimum-till producers to plant a little earlier than their conventional colleagues; also, to consider some means of strip tillage or surface trash clearance in the band where they’ll be planting their sunflower in order to help warm the soil in that band.
        “Higher Oil Percentage — To maximize oil percentage, North Dakota and northern Minnesota growers definitely should avoid planting after late May, Berglund stresses.”
        Confronting the Headache of Head Rot / By Don Lilleboe — “Year in and year out, Sclerotinia wilt is more of a problem — and receives more attention — than does Sclerotinia head or middle-stalk rot.  That was not the case, however, during 1993 in the Red River Valley of northwestern Minnesota, northeastern North Dakota and southern Manitoba.  The unusually cool, wet growing season brought with it the exact conditions conducive to Sclerotinia head rot.
        “A survey by Agriculture Canada scientists based at Morden, Man., tells the story.  Each year since 1988, Dr. Khalid Rashid and his colleagues have surveyed from 30 to 80 sunflower fields across the southern portion of Manitoba.  Because canola — also susceptible to Sclerotinia — id s major crop in the province, the percentage of sunflower fields in which Sclerotinia incidence was found is particularly high compared to U.S. areas: from 45 percent in 1991 all the way up to 88 percent in 1989.  In 1992, Sclerotinia wilt was present in 52 percent of the surveyed Manitoba fields; in 1993, the figure was 68 percent.
        “The situation was quite different for Sclerotinia head rot.  From 1988 to 1991, none of the surveyed Manitoba fields showed evidence of head rot.  In 1992, however, head rot was present in 100 percent of the surveyed fields; in 1993, in 97 percent of the fields.  Severity — the average percentage of plants affected — was 30 percent in 1993, sharply higher than the severity ratings from Sclerotinia wilt in any of the six years.
        “Neither the higher severity rating nor the exceedingly high percentage of fields with Sclerotinia head rot in Manitoba during 1993 come as a surprise to Dr. Tom Gulya, USDA-ARS research plant pathologist at Fargo, N.D.  This past year was an ideal year for head rot because of the frequent and prolonged periods of rainfall or heavy dews in many Red River Valley sunflower fields, he points out — as condition that is essential for Sclerotinia head rot to proliferate.”
        SVO and Cargill in Marketing Alliance — “SVO Specialty Products, a subsidiary of Ohio-based Lubrizol Corporation, has formed an alliance with the Oilseed Processing Division of Cargill, Inc., to expand vegetable oil markets for SVO’s patented Trisun® high-oleic sunflower oil.
    “According to Richard Schoenfeld, SVO president, Cargill’s strengths in providing oils for food manufacturers, snack food producers, bakers and food services providers will complement SVO’s food industry marketing program, while SVO continues to supply its current customers and expand specialty markets.   “SVO began marketing its specialty vegetable oils in 1984, introducing Trisun for commercial foods and industrial specialty markets.  Trisun was introduced for limited retail sales in 1992.  Minneapolis-based Cargill operates 10 U.S. vegetable oil refineries.”
return to top of page

   More about Sunflower ►