Sunflowers are a versatile crop that are highly adaptable to changing weather conditions and able to mine moisture and soil nutrients at depth due to their unique root system. Proper sowing can help sunflowers get off to a strong start and compete against weeds.

Sowing Sunflower

Optimizing Yields with Proper Sowing Methods

  • Sow sunflowers once the soil temperature is over 8°C – for optimal emergence. 
  • Plant early  but consider the forecast: 

          –  At the cotyledon stage sunflowers can withstand temperatures of -5°C to -7°C.

          –  With the appearance of the first true leaves negative temperatures can be fatal for the crop. 

  • Respecting oilseed crop rotation – sunflowers should only be planted 1 year out of 3 at the minimum. 
  • Soil texture – having a good ground structure will improve rooting and development of the taproot. 
  • Make sure soil is pressed firmly against the seed at planting and the furrow is closed following seed placement – for good seed to soil contact.

Benefits of Early Planting

Planting early can deliver better yield performance as flowering is offset to a period where water stress is lower for the crop. Consider planting when: 

  • Soil temperature above 8°C   
  • There is good soil moisture   
  • Weather forecasts are favourable for a 5-7 day period 

          Air temperature allowing quick emergence

          No big rainfall before emergence

More about sunflower

Understanding the Relationship Between Sowing Dates and Sunflower Yields

Plant Density : Key to High-Yielding Sunflowers

The optimum population is between 50,000 and 75,000 plants/ha based on your soil type, sowing date and variety chosen. To get the population right consider the following: 

  • Ensure even planting/metering of seed. The sunflower cannot compensate for an uneven population, which can lead to losses exceeding 5 q/ha. 
  • Reduce plant density in humus rich soils, dry situations and in case of late sowing 
  • Sow 5 to 10 % above the desired plants/ha target 
  • Know your equipment, calibrate it properly and drive slowly (~6km/hr)

Mastering Row Spacing and Plant Density

Seed placement and plant density are two key factors to manage when planting sunflowers. Knowing the optimal plant density for the sunflower hybrid you’re planting can impact your yields and the competitiveness of the crops to weeds.  

Effect of Row Spacing at a density of 65, 000 plants/ha

  • The optimum spacing for sunflowers is 45 cm, but it is seldom used for practical reasons. 
  • A spacing of 60 cm is a good compromise. 
  • Avoid an 80 cm spacing because it can cause insufficient ground cover.

Effect of Irregular Population on Sunflower Crops

Expert Tips for Sowing Sunflower

Ensuring your planter is in good conditions is key to successful planting. Here are some tips for fine tuning your equipment when you plant your MAS Seeds sunflower hybrids. 

  • Consult your planter manual for proper inflation and tyre size. Unwanted population variation occurs with over or under inflation of the meter drive system tyres.  
  • Check closing wheel alignment.  
  • Check that you have the proper metering roll for the proper application. Also check the metering roll for wear and clean from any foreign material.  
  • Check meter calibrations prior to entering the field and check your calibrations and seed usage after planting a few acres 
  • Ensure your vacuum is set properly as your skips and multiples should be close to equal (if more multiples, lower your vacuum; if more skips, increase your vacuum) 

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Our local teams visit farms and distributors on-site to give you the best advice for your location. Find your local MAS Seeds® consultant by visiting a country website or fill out our contact form here.