Central Queensland grower Peter Mifsud grows sunflowers as a profitable break crop to help manage feathertop Rhodes grass on his property north-east of Clermont.
PHOTO: Clarisa Collis
Central Queensland grower Peter Mifsud has highlighted the profitability of sunflowers as part of a crop-sequencing strategy to help control feathertop Rhodes (FTR) grass on his family’s 3900-hectare property.
Peter says sunflower cropping has become a “vital tool” in the past five years due to increased pressure from FTR grass in his mixed farming system north-east of Clermont.
But since the Mifsuds reintroduced sunflowers to their crop rotation in 2008 they have mostly eradicated infestations of FTR grass from their paddocks.
To achieve this, the family has implemented a two-pronged approach to managing the weed. This involves varying their herbicide mode-of-action groups and using strategic cultivation in their otherwise zero-till system.
Instead of targeting feathertop Rhodes grass with glyphosate alone, they have switched to in-crop applications of the Group A herbicide Verdict®.
However, they have continued to apply two applications of glyphosate plus 2,4-D in a short fallow period following harvest to control other grass and broadacre weeds on their sunflower country.
Although the Mifsuds primarily grow the oilseed crop for its weed-control benefits, Peter says sunflowers have been a lucrative addition to their enterprise mix, which includes sorghum, maize, chickpeas, wheat and cotton.
For example, he says a sunflower crop that yields about 1.8 tonnes/ha returns a net profit of $754, while a 1t/ha crop yields returns about $274. Peter says transport to an oilseed crushing plant in Newcastle, estimated at $145/t, is the main expense for the summer crop in their farm business.
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