Around two million hectares will be sown in Serbia this spring, and the largest area will be traditionally occupied by corn – about 950,000 hectares, which is about 70,000 hectares less than last year. Due to good prices and problems in Russia and Ukraine, farmers will sow more soya beans and sunflower.
According to announcements by local farmers, sunflower could occupy about 250,000 hectares, about 30,000 more than last year. It is estimated that due to the war in Ukraine, the production of sunflower there could fall to the lowest level in 13 years – to about 4.3 million hectares, a third less than last year.
“This year, oilseeds will be more interesting than corn, primarily due to the lack of supplies from Ukraine and Russia, which are responsible for 80 percent of world sunflower production, but also because of the smaller investment necessary for sowing sunflower and soya compared with corn”, said Sunčica Savović, director of the Association Žita Srbije to RTS.
Calculations show that investment in a hectare of corn is around 1,000 euros, while sunflowers can be sown on the same area for 600 to 700 euros.
At the same time, sunflower is a less demanding plant and thrives in slightly worse soil, but, as experts especially warn, it should not be sown for two years in a row on the same field.
“Speaking of crop rotation, sunflower should be planted on the same field every 5-6 years. In the Central Banat region, it is usually every third year, which is not always recommended, especially now that we have combinations of different hybrids”, says Zorica Rajačić from the Agricultural Expert Service in Zrenjanin.
She believes that producers should think carefully if they increase areas with sunflower, so that it will not be, as she says, for the second year, because that can create a problem for other crops.
“Repeated sowing in a two-year cycle is not good, because with this way of growing you deplete the soil and it leads to overpopulation of weeds that are typical for that crop, and overpopulation of diseases and pests. By separating plant species in a three-field system, you separate weed development and thus reduce their frequency in a particular crop, which is important for us to protect against weeds in the right way, that is, mechanically and with proper crop rotation”, says Ljubiša Kolarić of the Faculty of Agriculture in Belgrade.
According to experts, it is best for sunflower to be a pre-crop for wheat, and for corn to be grown on the field after wheat.
Sunflowers are sown in Serbia in Vojvodina, Pomoravlje, Mačva and Stig.