Winning With Sunflowers

Choosing Sunflower Hybrids

Listen to Mick Kjar of Farm Talk, and Trygg Olson of Nuseed, discuss the key points to consider when considering sunflowers as a crop on your farm.

Ask any producer why they grow sunflowers and nine times out of ten they’ll say they make good money, says Fred Parnow, Nuseed’s Canada business manager. As a crop, sunflowers offer a great return on investment, he says. “If you put money into good management of sunflowers, they can be one of the best returns per investment cost you can grow,” he says. “It’s a pretty phenomenal crop.” Although financial gain may top the list of reasons producers choose to grow sunflowers, there are many others, says Parnow, including reduced risk. For example, sunflower production contracts usually include an “Act of God” clause, reducing a grower’s financial risk when compared with producing other crops. “Oil, confection, bird food, dehull – almost every market contract has an Act of God clause. With a corn contract, you’ve got to deliver that corn,” says Parnow.

Sunflowers also help reduce crop production risks, such as disease and insect pressure, environmental stress, and harvest timing. Extending and diversifying crop rotation reduces disease and insect pressure in general. Because they are a deep-rooted crop, sunflowers thrive under drier conditions and with fewer fertility inputs than other crops.

Sunflowers can access moisture deep in the root zone as well as utilize nutrients that may be leached down in the soil profile. Not only are sunflowers beneficial for resource utilization, the crop helps producers manage environmental risks, such as inclement weather or drought.

Click on the chart to see Nuseed’s full line-up of hybrids for every field and every market. #winningwithsunflowers

Marketing Versatility

Before choosing a hybrid an understanding of the different sunflower markets, and the risks and rewards of each, is important.

“There are multiple market options, and sunflowers are a specialty crop. Many specialty crops are going to be positioned very attractively to producers. There’s a lot of global supply right now of the big crops – corn, beans and wheat – giving good pricing opportunities for sunflowers,” says Pokrzywinski.

The region the hybrid will be grown must also be a key consideration. The Nuseed portfolio has a top performing hybrid for every market segment and every region. Legend Seeds Dealers, the exclusive distributor of Nuseed sunflowers in the U.S., are an excellent information source on which hybrids are appropriate for their regions as well as what markets fit the producers’ operations. Legend Seeds Dealers are also familiar with the production practices required for the hybrids they sell, such as machinery adjustments and planting deadlines.

Agronomic Traits

Hybrid decisions should also be based on the herbicides producers use on their farms. Sunflower producers only have two options for in-season weed control— BASF’s Clearfield® or DuPont’s ExpressSun® production systems. Nuseed’s portfolio includes both herbicide tolerant traits. “It’s important for producers to know which weeds are the primary issues on their farms or what weeds will be the issue in-season—and to choose their sunflower hybrid accordingly,” says Pokrzywinski.