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We had a good, slow rain over Labor Day weekend. We had slightly over
5 inches. That's the most rain we've
had in ages. With the large cracks in the ground there wasn't much
runoff. Our field didn't benefit from this rain because the plants had reached physiological maturity (R9). We just need the
heads and stalks to dry before we can harvest.
At this time of year when the seeds are maturing, birds become a major problem. We saw bird damage a week or so ago, but today we caught a mourning dove having a mid-morning snack. Our field is loaded with goldfinches, house sparrows, and doves. I don't know if there will be any seed left to harvest.
Sometimes farmers ask, "why are there are so many insect problems in sunflowers in areas where they haven't been grown commercially?" That's a good question. Well, sunflowers may not have been grown previously in an area, but more than likely wild sunflowers are growing and the insects that damage a farmer's field of cultivated sunflowers come from the wild sunflowers. These wild sunflowers have been blooming for a couple weeks and you can be assured they have the same problems. This is an example of common annual sunflower.
There are many different species of sunflower. Some are annuals, which means they grow from seeds every year and some are perennials, which means they grow back from their root system and not necessarily from seeds. This is an example of Jerusalem Artichoke. It is a perennial. Birds like seeds of wild sunflowers, too.