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Sunflower Petals Beginning to Dry
USAgNet - 08/25/2016

Sunflowers continue to bloom in South Dakota and Kansas, but petals are already starting to dry in North Dakota and Kansas, and growers in Texas are 20% done with sunflower harvest. More than 70% of North Dakota's sunflowers are reported in good to excellent condition; the same is true in Colorado and Kansas. Minnesota is reporting its crop at 58 good to excellent.

Heavy and frequent dews, combined with warm temperatures, have provided a favorable environment for sunflower rust in North Dakota. So it is important producers keep an eye on sunflower this time of year. Confection sunflower tend to be more susceptible to rust than oilseeds, however there are distinct resistant differences among hybrids; some are resistant and some are susceptible. If rust is found on the top of the canopy (the top four fully-expanded sunflower leaves) at 1% severity or higher in R5 (bloom) a fungicide application may be warranted. By R6 (flowering is complete) research trials have shown no benefit to a fungicide application.

Petals are beginning to drop on sunflower, and that means it is time to start thinking about blackbirds. Research finds that as much as half of the blackbird damage to ripening sunflower happens in the first two weeks after petal drop. These are blackbirds that have been reared locally and are in the process of developing their long range flying feathers. That makes these birds difficult to move, but there are ways to lower damage, including cattail management, cannons, harassment, desiccants, and repellants. These can be even more effective when used in combination.

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