Article Archives
Growing Clearfield Sunflower

Tuesday, December 9, 2003
filed under: Optimizing Plant Development/Yields

For producers who grew Clearfield sunflower this year, the hybrid/herbicide production system performed as advertised. And the fact that the hybrids were a bit longer season didn’t seem to be a problem.

Jerry and Dean Goter grew Clearfield and non-Clearfield sunflower (both NuSun™) on their farm near Woodworth, N.D. They grew a Mycogen Clearfield variety (understandable, since Jerry is a Mycogen seed dealer) on about 130 acres.

“The weed control was excellent,” says Jerry Goter. “I was a bit concerned about drydown at harvest, but it dried down fine. It was still looking a bit green but we had a hard frost and about a week later it dried quite quickly after that.” Maturity of the Clearfield variety was about 98 days compared to 94 days for his non-Clearfield hybrids.

Test weight was a bit lighter than the non-Clearfield, about 30 pounds compared to 33 for the regulars. Oil was also a bit lighter, about 40% versus 45%. Yield for both was comparable at about 1,500 to 1,600 pounds.

The Goters grew Clearfield on ground that hadn’t had sunflower on it for about seven years. They put 10 lbs/ac of Sonalan down prior to planting, following up with Beyond at the recommended rate and early window of application. “My advice would be to pick your fields to use it. If you have cocklebur and marshelder pressure, it might be one of the better hybrids to use. If you don’t have the weed pressure, there are chemicals that will probably do just as well and may be more economical for you.” The Goters plan to grower more Clearfield sunflower next year.

Todd Hofer, Doland, S.D. (about 20 miles east of Redfield) tried a Seeds 2000 Clearfield variety on a field with heavy kochia. He said the Beyond did a good job of cleaning it up, despite spraying later than he would have liked.

“It rained on me and I sprayed when sunflower was about 6 to 8 leaf, and the kochia was bigger than 4 inches tall. But the Beyond still controlled it,” he says.

Hofer grows minimum till winter wheat, sunflower, and corn. He applied Prowl prior to planting the Clearfield sunflower, and tankmixed Warrior with his application of Beyond for stem weevil control. He came back with Asana XL at about 30% bloom for seed weevil control. “I never saw a hole in a sunflower seed in all of harvest. Not a one, and that’s rare. We must have hit it (the seed weevil) at the right time, I guess.”

The Clearfield sunflower outyielded his non-Clearfield sunflower (both NuSun™) by several hundred pounds. “We had a lot of 2,000-pound ‘flowers, and the Clearfield ran about 2,300 pounds.” At this writing Hofer hadn’t sold any new crop yet, so he didn’t have an oil comparison.

Timely rains and optimal growing temperatures combined for an excellent sunflower crop overall. “My dad started growing sunflowers in 1970. I think this was about the best yield we’ve ever had. We were in a pocket where every week we got about an inch or so of rain. During wheat harvest we could have used another inch of rain for the corn, but the ‘flowers stuck it out and did well.” Hofer plans to grow Clearfield sunflower again next year.

Lee and Terry Lubbers of Burke, S.D. (about 50 miles southeast of Winner, near the Nebraska border) had a good sunflower year too: Clearfield sunflower that yielded 2,300 lbs/ac, and non-Clearfield that yielded as high as 3,000 lbs/ac. Oils for both were comparable, running between 43 to 45%. “We had a good sunflower crop from one end to the other,” says Lee Lubbers. He attributes it to “good fertility, keeping it clean, watching for bugs, and a little luck.”

The Lubbers grow minimum till sunflower, winter wheat, corn, and soybeans. On their Clearfield sunflower (a Mycogen variety) planted May 29, they applied 70 units of nitrogen and 30 of phosphorous, and 26 oz/ac of Roundup Ultramax two days later as a burndown. On June 30, they applied Beyond at 4 oz/ac with 10 lbs of AMS and one quart of a nonionic surfactant, both per100 gallons of water. They applied the product with a ground sprayer at 20 gallons of water per acre. “We prefer to run a high gallon of water to make sure we get good leaf coverage.” The application of Beyond, says Lee Lubbers, performed “picture perfect,” keeping the Clearfield sunflower clean through harvest.

They aerially applied insecticide at about 20-30% bloom. They didn’t have any problems with early-season insects, which Lee attributes to preplant tillage. In the case of the Clearfield sunflower, the Lubbers worked the previous year’s corn ground before planting, using either a field cultivator or mulch finisher. “We like to hit it once with tillage to spread out the trash and break up that insect cycle, then notill when we plant with one pass into a firm seedbed.”

The Lubbers also applied Birdshield, a grape-juice extract bird repellent, on sunflower that had a lagoon in it. “We were the only ones around here to get our hands on some, and were really impressed with that product. It gave us two weeks of control.” No rain during those two weeks may have helped with the bird repellent’s lingering residual effectiveness, he surmises.

After petal drop, the Clearfield sunflower seemed to slow down a little; the heads and bracts stayed yellow for about three weeks. “They dried down slower, and this is one of the few years we did not have a killing freeze. But they (the Clearfield sunflower) still yielded good, and even if we would have had a freeze in mid September, they would have been fine,” Lee Lubbers says. – Tracy Sayler

return to top of page

   More about Sunflower ►