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Sowing Sunflower

Successful Sunflower Sowing

Sunflowers are a versatile crop that are highly adaptable to changing weather conditions and able to mine moisture and soil nutrients at depth due to their unique root system. Proper sowing can help sunflowers get off to a strong start and compete against weeds.

Sowing Sunflower


To Maximize Your Yields


  • Sow sunflowers once the soil temperature is over 8°C – for optimal emergence. 

  • Plant early  but consider the forecast: 

                At the cotyledon stage sunflowers can withstand temperatures of -5°C to -7°C.

               With the appearance of the first true leaves negative temperatures can be fatal for the crop. 

  • Respecting oilseed crop rotation – sunflowers should only be planted 1 year out of 3 at the minimum. 

  • Soil texture – having a good ground structure will improve rooting and development of the taproot. 

  • Make sure soil is pressed firmly against the seed at planting and the furrow is closed following seed placement – for good seed to soil contact.


  Sowing sunflower now

Early Planting 

Planting early can deliver better yield performance as flowering is offset to a period where water stress is lower for the crop. Consider planting when: 

  • Soil temperature above 8°C   

  • There is good soil moisture   

  • Weather forecasts are favourable for a 5-7 day period 

          Air temperature allowing quick emergence

          No big rainfall before emergence


Sunflower yield according to sowing dates

Sunflower sowing

Plant Density 

The optimum population is between 50,000 and 75,000 plants/ha based on your soil type, sowing date and variety chosen. To get the population right consider the following: 

  • Ensure even planting/metering of seed. The sunflower cannot compensate for an uneven population, which can lead to losses exceeding 5 q/ha. 

  • Reduce plant density in humus rich soils, dry situations and in case of late sowing 

  • Sow 5 to 10 % above the desired plants/ha target 

  • Know your equipment, calibrate it properly and drive slowly (~6km/hr)


Row Spacing and Plant Density

Seed placement and plant density are two key factors to manage when planting sunflowers. Knowing the optimal plant density for the sunflower hybrid you’re planting can impact your yields and the competitiveness of the crops to weeds.  


Effect of row spacing on yield for a density of 65, 000 plants/ha

sowing sunflower rowing space

  • The optimum spacing for sunflowers is 45 cm, but it is seldom used for practical reasons. 

  • A spacing of 60 cm is a good compromise. 

  • Avoid an 80 cm spacing because it can cause insufficient ground cover.


Effect of an irregular population on final production

sowing table


Sunflower Sowing Planter Tips

Ensuring your planter is in good conditions is key to successful planting. Here are some tips for fine tuning your equipment when you plant your MAS Seeds sunflower hybrids. 

  • Consult your planter manual for proper inflation and tyre size. Unwanted population variation occurs with over or under inflation of the meter drive system tyres.  

  • Check closing wheel alignment.  

  • Check that you have the proper metering roll for the proper application. Also check the metering roll for wear and clean from any foreign material.  

  • Check meter calibrations prior to entering the field and check your calibrations and seed usage after planting a few acres 

  • Ensure your vacuum is set properly as your skips and multiples should be close to equal (if more multiples, lower your vacuum; if more skips, increase your vacuum) 

sowing time

To get planting advice or find seed, contact your local MAS Seeds representative. 

Contact MAS Seeds



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