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Fall and Winter Sunflower Thoughts for the 2022 Growing Season

Written by Kevin Swanson

New crop contracting has started for the 2022 growing season. Colorado Mills has a 2022 new crop High Oleic Sunflower contract price posted at This is an Acre/Production contract, which is just like an Act-of-God contract. We do offer a grower incentive of $0.20/cwt for each of the last 5 years you have delivered your crop to us up to a maximum $1 premium. And don’t forget the additional oil premiums are paid when sunflowers contain over 40% oil. Give us a call to discuss your contracting needs and to get our current new crop contract price at 719-336-8452, or email


Increasing sunflower yields and oil content is a much-discussed topic. Here are some tools to help increase yields.

  1. A good weed control program is a key place to start. Get your plan in place early. Pre-emergence applications are the best options available at this time. Using combinations such as Spartan & Prowl, Spartan & Dual, or Spartan & Zidua have been producing good results. Some of these are sold as a combination under a label name such as Broadaxe XC, Spartan Elite, Authority Elite, and Authority Supreme. These can be more economical to purchase than buying each separately. Post-emergence options are limited. Zidua can be applied post-emergence from V1 to V8 stage. Always read and follow label directions. Talk with your local herbicide dealer early. Early buying opportunities are frequently offered. Some generic options of these herbicides are also available at lower prices.

  2. Seed hybrid selection: Take a look at seed trial data from your area of farming (i.e., University trials and seed company data.) Talk with your seed salesman. Discuss with some of your neighbors that are growing sunflowers what varieties are producing best for them.

  3. Plant full season sunflowers prior to June 15th. Earlier planting dates have produced higher yields with higher oil content. Experiencing high temperatures when seeds are emerging and during seed development can affect yield and oil content.

  4. Plant populations: Seed companies can give you some recommendations. Experiment on your farm. Try some different seed population rates to see what works best. Seed spacing is important and will help with weed control and yield. Check planters before planting season to make sure they are working properly to get the best seed singulation you can.

  5. Fertilizer timing and the proper amount will help. Have your soil tested for residual Nitrogen to know how much is available before adding more. A 3’ soil test is best. Sunflowers have an extensive root system that can help them utilize residual nutrients in the soil. A good nutrient plan would be to use a starter fertilizer at planting and applying additional later in the growth stage is ideal. Some phone applications are available in the “app store” to assist you with fertilizer management such as AgPhD.

  6. If you have irrigation available, use it timely; during the early sunflower growth stages, their water needs are 'water only if needed'. If you see signs of water stress in the mornings it is a good time to apply water. A sunflower’s optimal need for water starts as the bud starts to form through the final stages of reproduction. To narrow this down more, stages R4 to R7 would be the best time to apply water.

  7. Healthy plants are the key to healthy yields. If you see something out of the ordinary, take a picture with your phone of what you are seeing and share it with us or other sunflower industry experts for help.

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