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The Super Crop

Drought tolerance, water/nutrient efficiency and market opportunity are all reasons to grow this agronomic superhero.

Superhero films have become reliable cash generators that draw in crowds and usually spur a slew of sequels. As of August 2021, the Marvel Cinematic Universe series was the highest-grossing film franchise with a total worldwide box office revenue of nearly US$23 billion.

You might say sunflower is to the ag industry what the Marvel movies are to the people who make films in Hollywood, and 2022 shows no signs of the sunflower market slowing down.

“It’s a great time to reintroduce sunflower to your farm. 2021 was a heck of a year for people on a lot of different fronts — the drought, COVID, supply chain challenges, you name it. But despite all that, sunflower performed very, very well,” says Alison Pokrzywinski, Product Development Manager North America for Nuseed.
Alison Headshot
“People who grew sunflower in 2021 are going to be increasing their acres for 2022. The challenges we saw last year really gave this crop a chance to shine.”

According to Pokrzywinski, most sunflower growing regions in the northern United States and the Prairie region of Canada faced severe drought in 2021. Sunflower was able to come out on top in many areas.

“Sunflowers need moisture at specific times to be minimally successful, and that’s at plant stand establishment. They need more during flowering, or shortly after flowering, because that’s when the seed is starting to develop. That’s exactly what happened in a lot of the sunflower-growing regions,” she says.

“Growers were able to get a decent stand, and even though yields varied, they were still reliable enough for growers to come out ahead.”

That means despite drought, return on investment was still very good. In areas impacted more heavily by the drought, she says 1,000-pound per acre yields were very

“While that’s not by any means spectacular, a lot of growers ended the season thinking, ‘Boy, we had such a drought and I still got a decent sunflower yield, especially considering what prices are right now.’ That means growers are going to be coming back to this crop in 2022.”

In areas that had more rain, the crop did even better, she notes. Some areas produced 2,500-pound per acre yields, and she’s even seen some 3,000-pound per acre yields as well. “That’s phenomenal.”