How to start a sunflower field from scratch

Old Lyme, United States

Hello everyone,

I am hoping to pick your brains or research information on starting a sunflower field from scratch.

My wife and I are in the early stages of restoring and renovating her grandparents' house that they built in the 1940s. It is on 47 acres, most of which is woodland. However, we have roughly about an acre to the left of our driveway that leads down to a pond, and in the 1960s, this area held sheep. Thus, while overgrown, it has little in the way of large growth, such as trees (I mean, there are some, but I think they would be pretty simple to cut down). I always have wanted to plant a sunflower field (my last name means sunflower in Italian), and this area would be perfect for it. However, one cannot be more of a novice than I am when it comes to clearing, cultivating and planting something of that nature. Fortunately, I have the clearing part down, because my wife's cousins own a small horse/cow farm next to us and he has a brushcutter. However, in terms of cultivating and growing ... no clue.

I have a bag of soil that I am shipping off to the local university to get tested. I am assuming that at some point I'll need a small tractor, like a Farmall Cub (preferably), and the necessary implements. I was hoping you could share with me some things that I would need to do, what I would need, etc. Or, just as important, if you know of any websites where I can find this information. Right now, I'm really just curious how to turn overgrowth into a field that is ready for planting. I joke with my wife that we should call this 'Pricker Acres' because I believe we have half of the world's supply of prickers in this area. I took a walk around it today (it was 65 degrees here in Connecticut ... unbelievable) and came out with a bunch of scratches and two ticks!

I have attached five photos. I know it is kind of hard to grasp the size of this, but you can get an idea for what we would like to do. Some of the trees near the road might gobble up the sunshine in the summer, so that will have to be evaluated. Right now our neighbors use these for their maple syrup production. Our local fire department asked if they could use our pond and said they would clean out all the dead wood, which we happily obliged.

Thanks for any help you can give.


This message was edited Feb 25, 2017 9:28 PM

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Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

I think you're off to a good start. Honestly I think if you clear and cultivate that will be all that is needed besides tossing some seed out and scratching it in so the birds don't eat them all. If you have deer you might consider fencing the area. I live in California in a canyon and don't get a full days' sun even in summer but my sunflowers do just fine. I rarely "feed" my flower garden as I've had bad experiences with overfeeding so I now I underfeed. Sunflowers don't seem picky at all. I have a neighbor who grows sunflowers in her front pasture, they are charming. Good Luck!

P.S. I love my tractor, but you could hire someone to do the work.

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