Date of this Version
HELIA 2016; 39(64): 45–56
Delayed planting is recommended to reduce damage from sunflower insect pests in the United States, including the sunflower moth, Homoeosoma electellum (Hulst) and banded sunflower moth, Cochylis hospes Walsingham. However, in some locations, planting earlier or growing later-maturing hybrids could improve yield or oil content of sunflowers which would partially offset any added costs from insect pests or their management. Because the abundance and distribution of some sunflower insects have changed since recommendations for delayed planting were developed, experimental plots were grown in 2012 and 2013 at sites in North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois. Sunflowers were planted two to four weeks earlier than normal, including hybrids that flower two to three weeks later than elite commercial hybrids. The sum of seed damaged by sunflower moth, banded sunflower moth, and red sunflower seed weevil, Smicronyx fulvus LeConte, (i. e., total percentage) was influenced by location, but not the relative maturity of tested entries. However, when damage attributed solely to the red sunflower seed weevil was analyzed, more damaged seed were found for late-maturing entries in North Dakota and Nebraska. In addition to the trial data, current pest populations are lower than when delayed planting was first recommended and insecticide use during sunflower bloomis both common and effective. Together, these observations suggest factoring insect pests into planting time decisions may be unnecessary, except for areas with a history of problems with severe pests that cannot be managed using insecticides (e. g., sunflower midge, Contarinia schulzi Gagné).