Calvin Trostle, Soil & Crop Sciences, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Lubbock, TX, Dennis Pietsch, Soil and Crop Sciences, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, College Station, TX and Sean M. Wallace, Texas Agrilife Extension Service, Lubbock, TX
Beginning in 2003 sunflower producers could consider planting oilseed sunflower hybrids which are up to 1 m (or 50%) shorter than conventional height sunflower. This enables producers to manage their crop with their own ground rigs for spraying, cultivating, etc. Comparing short-stature sunflower vs. conventional height hybrids, the objectives are 1) document height differentials between hybrids, 2) compare yields, 3) compare oil content, and 4) calculate crop value. The Texas AgriLife Research Crop Testing Program routinely plants numerous short-stature hybrids that are submitted for conventional height hybrid testing in the performance tests. Trial sites include the Texas High Plains (2005-2011) and Central Texas/Coastal Bend (2009-2011) where usually three or more short-stature entries grown. Early short-stature hybrids were near 1 m tall, but some hybrids now labeled short-stature are in fact almost as tall as conventional hybrids, and cannot be farmed with in-field equipment. Texas High Plains tests in 2008-2010 found no significant difference (0.05) in yield (SS = 2,504 kg/ha vs. 2,443 kg/ha), oil content (SS= 42.8%, all others 41.3%), and crop value (SS = $516/A vs. $497/A). Results suggest there is no performance drag associated with short-stature oilseed sunflower. Coupled with the convenience of spraying oilseed sunflower with a ground rig rather than an airplane, short-stature sunflower is a suitable alternative to conventional height sunflower.