Frequently Asked Questions
When targeting doves, plant a black-oil type sunflower to utilize a plot sized area.
Several different bird species love oil sunflowers seeds in their diet, including game birds like doves, quail and pheasants. Many mammals also enjoy feeding on sunflower seeds, such as whitetail deer, rabbits, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks and mice, to name a few.
Proudly grown in the USA, all of our sunflower production fields are located in California, which has ideal growing conditions for seed production. In addition to supporting American farmers, an added benefit of homegrown seeds is that supply chain issues are less likely to occur. Whereas some seed companies depend on their supply coming in from South America, you won’t need to worry about your order being stuck on a boat when planting season arrives.
The most common food plot sizes are 5 to 20 acres, but larger plots can attract even more birds. Some landowners opt to plant only a few acres, but plots of this size won’t hold a large number of birds and are likely to be quickly overhunted.
Planting two sunflower food plots nearby one another can help provide better results when it comes to attracting and retaining the most doves.
While a well-managed sunflower plot will help attract doves, you’ll get them to stay if you plant your food plot in an area that has places for them to nest and roost. This includes:
- Trees and shrubs for nesting cover.
- Power lines, tree groves or fence line shrubs for roosting cover and perching sites.
- Dependable sources for grit and fresh water, no more than a mile away.
Yes, sunflowers are an annual crop, so they need to be planted every season. Rotating with other crops will help improve results, because it helps break up weed, pest and disease cycles.
Sunflowers can be planted with a row crop planter, seeder / drill, or broadcast and dragged in.
Sunflowers like a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight a day. The more direct sunlight each plant receives, the better off the plant will be to achieving its full potential.
Sunflower roots can grow down to depths of 4 to 6 feet.
Your location will determine the ideal date to seed sunflowers. The crop needs a minimum soil temperature 50 degrees F at a depth of 2 to 2.5 inches to germinate. Each region of the United States has an optimal planting window:
- Southern states: April – May
- Central states: Mid-April – May
- Northern states: May – June
Apply Beyond® herbicide when sunflowers are between the 2- and 8-leaf stages – the earlier in that window the better. Growers often ask if they can spray when their crop is between 10 to 12 leaves; the problem with waiting this long is that applications are less effective. Weeds are larger and harder to control at this point, and the larger crop canopy reduces herbicide coverage on weeds. View the Beyond® herbicide product label and consult your local Armor Seed agronomist for assistance in determining the right rates and adjuvant package for your plot.
The most common issues encountered when growing sunflowers are pests and disease.
- Insects can create serious stalk, head and seed damage if not monitored and controlled. Products like Delta Gold®, Grizzly® Too and Yuma® 4E insecticides by WinField® United can be effective.
- Diseases like downy mildew, Phomopsis stem canker and common rust can also case poor seed quality, head rot, stock rot and lodging. Seed treatments like CruiserMaxx® Sunflowers, Dynasty® and Lumisena™ fungicide seed treatments can help protect seedlings against early season disease pressure. Depending on which diseases present concern during the growing season, a well-timed application of a product like Priaxor® Xemium®, Headline® or Vertisan® fungicides can offer protection.
Your local Armor Seed agronomist is an excellent resource for helping you determine the right insecticide and fungicide treatments for your sunflower plot.
Yield can also be lost to deer feeding. If this becomes a problem on your sunflower food plot, the University of Missouri Extension recommends harvesting more deer during the appropriate hunting season and/or installing electric fences around your plot to keep them out.
Although you could plant sunflowers year after year in the same spot, it is NOT recommended. Crop rotation is a good practice to keep the soil healthy. Problems stemming from consecutively planting sunflowers in the location field include excessive residue, fertility issues, disease and insect cycles, and herbicide resistance.
For the best results, it’s important to plant new high quality seed every season. If you happen to have carryover seed, it is recommended that you send a sample to your local lab for testing to determine germination percentages. This will also determine if the seed is usable and what rate to plant it at.
Armor® Seed, Cornerstone®, CROPLAN®, Section® and WinField® are registered trademarks of WinField United. Clearfield® and Beyond® are trademarks of BASF. CruiserMaxx® and Dynasty® are trademarks of Syngenta. Roundup PowerMAX® is a registered trademark of Monsanto Technology LLC. Lumisena™ is a trademark of Corteva Agriscience and its affiliated companies. Vertisan® is a registered trademark of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company.