How to Grow
Preparation of Soil
- 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 %.
- Well drained sandy loams, black soils and alluvial soils are suitable. Water logged areas should be avoided.
- Primary cultivations, such as ploughing with a mouldboard plough or chisel plough, are suitable. The following characteristics of soils will limit successful sunflower production and should be avoided: Sunflower is very sensitive to wind damage in the seedling stage and for this reason, cultivation on light-textured soils susceptible to wind erosion, should be avoided unless wind erosion is being combated successfully. Sunflower is very sensitive to waterlogging. Sunflower is very sensitive to high aluminium levels and should not be planted in soils with a pH lower than 4,6.
- Normally sunflower can be planted from the beginning of November until the end of December in the eastern areas and until mid-January in the western areas,
- Seed rate: Rainfed: 2.5 kg/acre Irrigated: 2 kg/acre Maintain a single seedling/hill at 10-15 days after germination. Spacing: 45 x 30 cms for light soils and 60 x 30 cm for heavy soils. Sowing time: Rainfed: September – 1st fortnight of October Irrigated: November
Summer: 15th January to 1st week of February Supplemental Pollination: Effective pollination can be achieved by maintaining two bee hives/acre. Supplemental hand pollination on alternate days preferably in morning hours for 2 weeks should be done wherever bee activity is low.
- FYM 4 tons/acre 2-3 weeks prior to sowing should be applied. 25 kg N, 25 kg P2 O5 and 12 kg K2O for rainfed and 25 kg N 35 kg P2 O5 and 12 kg K2 O for irrigated/acre should be applied.
- Nitrogen should be applied in three splits – basal (at the time of sowing), 30 days after sowing and 55 days after sowing while P2 O5 and K2 O should be applied at the time of sowing.
- Sulphur: Sulphur 8 Kg/acre may be applied through Ammonium Sulphate or single Super Phosphate or any complex fertilizer containing Sulphur for increasing the oil content in the seed.
- Boron: Borax or Solubar 2gms/ltr. of water may be sprayed at ray floret opening stage, for increasing seed filling, yield and oil content.
- In black soils, sunflower crop can be grown with residual moisture.
- However, it required 3-4 irrgations in such soils.
- In light soils about 8-10 irrigations are required for higher yields. Irrigations are required at sowing, bud initiation stage (i.e 35-40 days after sowing) flowering and seed setting stages.
- Critical stages of irrigation – button, flowering and grain filling stages.
- Weeding and Inter-cultivation: Pendamethalin 1 ltr. in 200 ltr. of water as pre-emergence spray followed by two times Danti (Blade harrow) with fifteen days interval.
- Sucking Pests: Monocrotophos @ 1.6 ml/ltr. or Acephate 1.0 G/1 ltr. can be sprayed.
- Leaf Eating Caterpillars: Chloropyriphos @ 2.5 ml/ltr. or Acephate 1.5 g/ltr. can be sprayed.
- Heliothis: NPV 200 ltr/acre can be applied Disease management
- Downy Mildew: Copper Oxychloride 3g/ltr. can be sprayed.
Harvesting, Storage and Drying
- Crop can be harvested when back side of the head turns to lemon yellow color. Moisture content can be reduced up to 9 to 10% by drying the heads before threshing for 2-3 days.