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Weeding out trouble

WE ARE in December and traditionally we have our summer crop in the ground and most times it is growing well. That was until we had a rough time in our winter crops.

Thank goodness commodity prices are strong and our oleic sunflower price is regaining some popularity. The first objection everyone has is birds. I will be the first person to advocate not planting more than 4ha (10 acres) on the river bank.

But these days there are more farmers looking to sensibly rotate cropping phases and we are all plagued with grass weeds like Feather Top Rhodes, Barnyard grass which is building up a large percentage of Glyphosate resistance, and who could forget Urachloa.

You don't just plant sunnies because you have a grass problem, but it's a point to consider.

Here is another advantage with growing sunflowers: it is currently financially better to grow the oleic or monounsaturated ones like the Hyoleic 41 or Ausigold 62.

There are others but these two have the market's lions share.

Sunflowers aren't for every paddock. The basics still need to be followed for this tap rooted plant, where having good sub soil moisture levels is key.

The way many sorghum varieties have reacted unfavourably to the cooler soil temps in October and November is not a concern with sunnies, as they will start the germination process at about five degrees Celsius.

Nitrogen quantities that should be applied is always a contentious subject and there are quite a few opinions around.

Sulphur is another critical element for determining leaf size and oil content, which may need attention if below that 5mgs per kg of an MCP soil test, particularly in double crop situations.

It needs to form a balanced ratio with nitrogen to achieve maximum success. Pay attention to Phosphorous, Potassium and assess VAM levels also.

Just a couple of tips in planting.

Planting speed is a major factor.

I realise you cannot just accept planting only five acres an hour by going slower, but you need to be aware your soil structure and moisture levels are also vital to evenness of strike.

These large leafed plants all need their own space to grow in and if four of them are crowded into one corner, they are not going to develop or yield as well as evenly placed areas.

The news is that it is not just for sunnies, who would benefit from this bit more of precision farming practice.

Topics:  paul mcintosh summer crops weeds