Peredovic Sunflower Provides Fall Food for Wildlife
An excellent source of fall and winter food for wild turkeys is peredovic sunflower. This warm-season plant produces small black seeds that are high in oil content and will grow throughout most of the United States.
Peredovic sunflower can be grown by itself in strips or planted with millet and other annual grains. Sunflowers require about 100 days to mature, making the faster-growing millet a good source of wildlife food during the interim. Once it matures, sunflowers drop seeds that provide excellent food for turkeys, quail, doves and pheasants. One drawback, however, is that sunflowers are difficult to grow where deer densities are high, since deer favor the young plants. This should be a consideration if whitetails are eating on other vegetation in the area you plan to cultivate.
Peredovic sunflower should be planted between March 15 and early June.
Depending on your location, broadcast seed at 40 pounds per acre and then cover it with one-half inch to 1.5 inches of earth.
Soil pH should be between 5.5 and 7.5.
Have your soil analyzed, and fertilize it according to the test results.
If you are growing sunflower for dove hunting, mow strips of sunflower (after the seed matures) using a rotary mower to make the seed available to the birds. "Leaving some of the sunflowers standing will create late-winter food supplies for turkeys, dove and quail," said Dr. James Earl Kennamer, NWTF Senior Vice President of Conservation Programs.
Try strip planting
An interesting planting technique involves strips of sunflowers planted alternately within a soybean field. The strips, no more than eight feet wide, should be planted approximately every 150 feet. After the soybeans are harvested, the sunflowers are left standing and cut just prior to dove hunting. This technique minimizes the amount of land removed from production and maximizes hunting opportunities.
Before planting and hunting over such fields, be sure to check both state and federal regulations to ensure your plans fall within legal guidelines. Many states do not permit the manipulation of crops in a manner inconsistent with that area's standard agricultural practices solely for the purpose of attracting game.
How to order
Peredovic sunflower is available through the National Wild Turkey Federation's Conservation Seed Program. Call 1-800-THE-NWTF for more information or to receive a free catalog.