|In the summertime, the electrifying golden colors of sunflowers fill the Sacramento Valley fields. Sunflowers, native to California, are a potential drought-resistant rotation crop, which is why it thrives so well in the desert. Irrigation specialist Khaled Bali from the UC Desert and Extension Center confirmed this after conducting research.
In his experiment, he tested to see how well the plants did with drought and stress. All plants were well-watered for four weeks before drought treatment started. Bali’s started his research with 1,800 plots of sunflowers with nearly 300 different genotypes. The trial plots were irrigated at 60 percent of the area’s ETo (the full amount of water used by well-irrigated, mowed grass in that environment), and at 100 percent. Bali found but no difference between plots that received 60 percent of ETo and 100 percent.
Bali attributed the success of the crop to its low need for water and crop production timing. Sunflowers planted from January through February are harvested in May and June, thus are harvested before the hottest part of the summer. With California producing more than 90 percent of the country’s hybrid sunflower planting seed, its survival, is critical.
If you would like to learn more about University of California research on Sunflowers, read more here.
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