26 Feb 2015

Sunflower is a crop which, compared to other crops, performs well under drought conditions; this is probably the main reason for the crop’s popularity in marginal areas.   Unfortunately the crop is particularly sensitive to high soil temperatures during emergence.

In large parts of the potential sunflower producing areas, the soil has acidified dramatically during the last decade. Consequently, molybdenum shortages often occur and are possibly one of the greatest yield-limiting factors. The crop is very susceptible to bird damage and for this reason; it cannot be cultivated at all in some areas. On the positive side, however, the drought tolerance and low input cost of the crop are major advantages. The short growth season of the crop, which has the consequence that it can be planted over a period of at least three months, renders it extremely suitable for producers who make use of adaptable crop rotation and/or fallow systems. In any case, sunflower is a crop that only belongs in a crop rotation system.

Soil Requirements

Sunflower adapts relatively well to a wide variety of soil types. Traditionally, sunflower cultivation has been limited to soils where the clay percentage varies between 15 and 55 %, In other words sandy loam to clay soil types. At present the major planting areas are in soils with a clay percentage of less than 20%.

It is important that the available water is used to the best advantage. Especially in the more arid areas, it is essential that as much water as possible be stored in the soil profile before planting, to limit the chance of failure.

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