Sunshine is what our beloved sunflowers are needing right now!  The weatherman says we've got 4 days of sun/cloud mix, but blue skies over the next half dozen days!

When it comes to harvesting the crop, sunflowers have a bit of a ways to go, says Scott Chalmers, Diversification Specialist for the Westman Agricultural Diversification Organization with Manitoba Agriculture.

"We took our research plots off, we were in a hustle to get to that data, whereas farmers, they tend to let it dry down a bit more so that the grain is dry for the bin, for the most part."

Chalmers says the recent rain would have been more helpful to sunflowers if it came in August or even early September when that seed fill was happening.

"When we were harvesting our sunflowers, we did find a lot of empty seeds, which is a sign of drought," he notes. "And at this point rain, all it does is add to the head rot. So, if the head gets wet, as long as the head is still kind of green, Scleractinia will take hold and that disease will just kind of 'melt' the head."

"So, that can turn into a loss for those heads, but also basically inoculate your soil with the disease for susceptible crops like canola the year after, even 4 years after. My understanding is that it's best not to use the desiccant which can aggravate that effect because it basically makes the head turn ripe early, but if it gets wet it can actually rot," he explains.

"Just letting it grow natural is about all you can do and there's nothing really you can do about it. It's just one of those natural things that happen to sunflower fields."

Chalmers is quite to note that the extreme dry conditions this summer are favorable for sunflower producers when it comes to Scleractinia.

"I don't think the threat is all that bad," he says. "We just don't have the disease threat there. Because it was so dry in August and September, I don't think we're going to have any of those sclerotia bodies in the soil producing spores that infect the head. So, I don't think it will be a battle at all."

Everybody is waiting for the crops to dry to finalize the harvest season, but a good frost would be timely.

"Honestly, everybody just needs a good frost to bring in the crop," he says. "I know there's some soybeans still with green stems even though the pods are ready.  There are still sunflowers that are still green with a few leaves. Canola stems are green."   

"A frost would go a long way, to be honest, to dry out our crops."

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