Barley Bulk Aids 'Flower Seeding
Barley Bulk Aids 'Flower Seeding
Sometimes things are what they¹re cracked up to be. Just ask Scott
In the spring of 2001, this Kansan employed a simple but ingenious tactic to
avoid uneven plant stands, one of the more-common problems encountered by
producers planting solid-seeded sunflower with an air drill His tool of
choice? Cracked barley.
Schertz, who farms with father Steve and brother Rex near Winona in
Logan County, has always used a 16-row JD 7000 for planting sunflower. He
wanted to try seeding ¹flowers with an air drill, but was concerned about
achieving uniform seed distribution, given the low-volume seeding rate of
sunflower. The bunches and gaps he saw in some other area solid-seeded
sunflower fields, coupled with his own unsatisfactory experience planting
corn with an air drill, made him hesitate.
Last year, however, Schertz decided to solid seed 30 acres of one
sunflower field, with the remainder of the same field planted with his
row-crop unit for comparison purposes. To hopefully overcome the “lack of
bulk” concern, he came up with the idea of mixing his sunflower seed in with
about 20 pounds per acre of cracked barley The volume of the barley, he
theorized, would result in a more-even distribution of the sunflower seeds.
He and his Mycogen Seeds’ representative, Bruce Keiser of nearby Colby,
agreed that first cracking the barley in a roller mill should largely
eliminate any barley germination and ensuing competition with the sunflower.
The sunflower went onto a continuous-cropped no-till field which had
been in corn during the 2000 season and in wheat the previous three years.
Two weeks prior to planting, Schertz sprayed the field with a tank mix of
glyphosate, Spartan and a light rate of 2,4-D.
Aiming for a sunflower seed drop of around 23,000 per acre, Schertz
mixed the ‘flowers and cracked barley in his feed truck and then augered the
blend into his Great Plains 2220 air tank. After calibration, he went out
and planted the 30 acres with his NTA3510 no-till seeding implement set on
Despite the difference in test weight between the sunflower and the
43-pound barley, Schertz witnessed very little separation, either in the
tank or out in the planted field. The resulting plant stand was uniformly
consistent, he reports, with virtually no bare spots or bunching of
sunflower plants. While the first round was planted too deep, he adjusted
to a half-inch seeding depth for the reminder of the 30 acres. Quick
germination and emergence produced an excellent plant canopy and good
suppression of any late-emerging weeds.
That entire dryland sunflower field averaged more than 2,300 pounds per
acre. Schertz says the 30-acre solid-seeded portion “was as good as, or
even a little better” than the row-crop acreage.
The western Kansas producer plans to repeat his “bulked up” sunflower
seeding experiment again in 2002, and may even increase the percentage of
sunflower acreage planted with the air drill. He is still somewhat
concerned by the thinner stalks resulting from the higher population with
the solid-seeded ‘flowers (23,000 versus 18,000 on the row-crop acreage).
Schertz also is mulling going with cracked oats this spring rather than
barley. While the barley worked well, he thinks the oats, whose lower test
weight is closer to that of sunflower, may work even better. If he does
stick with the barley, he believes he can reduce its volume down to 10 to 15
pounds per acre and still achieve similar results. -Don Lilleboe
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