Sunflowers and weeds: the weak link

After a loss of popularity, an upsurge in research should make sunflowers more profitable.

How do we keep weeds out of sunflowers? Central Queensland (CQ) Sustainable Farming Systems Project research aims to find out. Farmers and advisers will develop an integrated weed control program, with herbicide selection the key component.

QDPI agronomist Kevin McCosker and Andrew Farquharson, Pioneer Hi-bred Australia’s product development manager, told farmers at this year’s sunflower conference that private breeding programs must focus on herbicide tolerance in the crop. They called for a complete rethink of the best management practices for the crop in CQ.

“The Sustainable Farming Systems Project has identified sunflowers as the weak link in long-term weed management,” they said.

“Weed seeds build up during the sunflower phase and contribute to yield loss and add to the cost of weed control in following crops. At the same time growers in CQ can’t afford to lose the crop as a rotational option.”

They said that while recent poor and variable prices along with the problem of tall, persistent stubble had contributed to the decline in sunflower plantings in CQ, recent improvements in farming practices such as zero tillage, controlled traffic working and wide rows had made sunflowers more productive and profitable.

Program 3.5.1 Contact: Mr Kevin McCosker 07 4983 7400 Mr Andrew Farquharson 07 4982 1190

Region North