Fine Tuning Seeding Rates
It can be challenging getting planter settings right for sunflowers, especially confection hybrids. Alison Pokrzywinski, Nuseed sunflower technical agronomist, recommends checking all planter components and replacing any broken or worn out parts. To improve seed flow, she says, use graphite or talcum powder as recommended in the planter operator’s manual.
Seed placement is an important aspect of achieving the desired results. Singulation, or placing one seed per space, is essential, says Pokrzywinski. Multiple seeds in one location creates competition between plants, which results in smaller grain.
How close the sunflower plants are seeded depends upon the hybrid. Recommended seeding rates are based on the grain characteristics desired by the end-use markets. For example, confection hybrids, such as Nuseed’s Panther DMR, are often seeded at a rate of 16,000-17,000 seeds per acre for the in-shell market, whereas, conoil hybrids, such as Badger DMR, are seeded at 18,000-20,000 seeds per acre for the dehull or bird food markets.
Click image to view recommended seeding rates for Nuseed hybrids.
“Confection, conoils and oilseeds all have different requirements for planting population. It depends on what you want for your target seed size. The lower the population, the bigger and plumper your seeds are going to get. The higher the population the smaller the seeds.
You also want to make sure you have the right planting rate for your area. Consider the production limitations of your region, including moisture. In dry climates the seeding rate should be decreased by 5-10%.