There are a few nuances to planting sunflowers in no till conditions. We compiled a list of tips and techniques to help you achieve top-yield results while using no till farming practices.
Plant Your Sunflowers At The Right Depth
Sunflowers are sensitive to neighboring plants – even more sensitive than corn. Sunflower plants need to emerge at exactly the same time as neighboring plants for top yield potential. This is why consistent sunflower seed depth is an important no till technique.
Create a properly shaped furrow and improve your no till sunflower planting depth control by using our Valion seed tube guards. These guards are perfect for the high-wear conditions of no till since they outlast OEM guards by two to five times. Seed-tube guards limit the blade flex of the openers. Excessive blade flex creates pinched furrows – sometimes no thicker than a credit card, and much too narrow for a sunflower seed to get to the bottom. Worse, because blade flex changes every couple feet as the planter goes along (due to soil density changing), the effective depth is all over the place – not good for the health of your no till sunflower crop.
Firm Sunflower Seeds Into The Bottom Of The Furrow
It’s important for root development that the sunflower seed be firmed into the bottom of the seed furrow. If the seed is loose in the furrow, it is likely to follow the path of least resistance and grow laterally along the seed trench, instead of growing downward. For dicot (broadleaf) plants like sunflowers, the early path of the radicle (first root) is crucial since the radicle becomes the taproot. It needs to grow down—not sideways along the furrow—in order to be vigorous and sturdy. This strong taproot growing straight down anchors the tall plant and heavy seed head to prevent certain types of lodging (plant falling over), which hurts yield and is a mess to harvest. Straight down is also the path for the roots to explore the maximum volume of soil.
A great technique is to use seed firmers, such as Keetons with Mojo wire stiffeners to apply consistent pressure at the bottom of the furrow to tuck your sunflower seeds firmly into the soil. A Keeton alone will do some firming, but often it’s not enough – you want the seeds thoroughly embedded in the bottom of the furrow. A Mojo wire adds two to five times more pressure, locking the seed into the soil for more uniform emergence and better taproot growth. Research shows uniform timing of emergence leads to higher sunflower yields in no till farming conditions.
Crumble The Sidewall And Close The Furrow
Part of getting uniform timing of emergence is having uniform soil fill of the furrow over the sunflower seed. Smooth closing wheels overpack the furrow, especially when in wet conditions, smearing the sidewalls. One of our best tips is to use a spoked closing wheel such as the Thompson wheels. Spoked closing wheels break apart slickened sidewalls so the sunflower lateral roots aren’t restricted as they continue to grow. Thompson closing wheels have self-limiting depth so they won’t roto-till the sunflower seeds out of the furrow. Closing the furrow, with loose material over the sunflower seeds will keep the seed zone from getting too dried out and it will allow oxygen exchange within the soil, for faster and more uniform emergence.
Check out our catalog of no till equipment parts – you can view, download a PDF, or we’ll be happy to mail you a catalog.
Exapta manufactures parts and equipment for no till farming. Click here for more no till farming facts. For additional product information please contact us at (800) 417-8020, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.