Are double crop sunflowers a profitable option in organic systems in northern Illinois?
Organic farms depend on diverse rotations to help manage pest and disease issues. In northern Illinois corn and beans are the primary cash crops. Although small grains or forages are sometimes grown to help break up weed growth cycles, they are often not as profitable and are often grown at financial loss or breakeven. We will try growing oilseed sunflowers after soft red winter wheat to see if they they can be grown profitably as a double crop in the northern Illinois environment within an organic system. Sunflowers are reportedly more drought tolerant and less susceptible to an early frost than soybeans, which is a risky double crop option in northern Illinois. Sunflowers also help support native pollinators, and can help break up compaction with their deep taproots helping to decrease water runoff. They also provide a fun display of flowers for passers-by to enjoy in late summer. Because there are various costs associated with planting, caring for, harvesting, and marketing a crop, we will explore if sunflowers can be grown profitably compared to just winter wheat alone.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Successfully establish oilseed sunflowers after harvesting winter wheat.
- Evaluate the profitability of sunflowers grown as a double crop behind winter wheat, compared to just winter wheat alone.
- Share findings through our Youtube channel, Facebook page, the IDEA Farm Network, OGrain email group, Organic Talk forum, New AgTalk forum, as well as other outlets that present themselves.