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Sunflowers

No we don’t produce many sunflowers  for folks to snack on or for the oil, but we do feed a pile of doves annually with this crop.  Wild sunflowers are native to the North America, but commercialization of them took place in Russia.  Early native Americans used the seed to make flour and meal.

By 1830 Europeans were growing sunflower for oil, and by the late 1800’s the seed made its way back to North America to be cultivated by farmers from Canada to the panhandle of Texas.  learn more at the National Sunflower Associations website

I gave you that little bit of history to show you that in its trip from North America to Russia and back it never mentions middle Georgia.  The majority of U.S. sunflower production occurs in the northern plains.  These areas are blessed with rich deep organic soils.  Unlike our shallow, sandy, and inorganic soils.  We need to keep this in mind when growing them so that we can achieve acceptable yields.

The first thing to understand is that they can suffer greatly if tillage operations do not promote an extensive root system.  Not only will plants lodge when trying to flower and head out, but they will also show severe nutrient deficiency symptoms simply from an inadequate root system.

Secondly they are big users of boron (B), which is not always abundant in sandy soils. B deficiency does not affect flower head size but it can improve flower head formation and seed production.  The need for B can be addressed by using commercial fertilizers which contain boron or adding chicken litter into the system.  Since not many people use either of the above for sunflowers it may be necessary to add it foliarly.

This can be done using products like Solubor 20.5%.  by mixing 1.225 pounds of this product in water and applying it with a sprayer will deliver 0.25 pounds of actual B.  This should be done when sunflowers are around 10″ – 12″ tall.  Two applications can be, but are not always necessary.  You should apply no more than 0.5 pounds of actual B per acre per season.  Application rates higher than this can cause sever injury to sensitive crops.

While you are at it you could put in 2-3 pounds of epsom salts to add a little bit of sulfur (S) since it to is usually lacking in our soils.

Hopefully this will help you out and help improve you dove hunting success this season