Learn about Safflower planting, tillage, irrigation, economics, pests, fertility, weeds, and more.


Growing Safflower in Utah

Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.), is an annual oilseed crop (Figure 1). It is a member of the Asteraceae family and is a highly branched, herbaceous, thistle-like plant, usually with many long, sharp spines on the leaves and flower head. Early reports show that it has been grown in the U.S. in experimental test plots since 1928 and on a commercial basis in Utah since 1957 by area producers for Pacific Vegetable Oils (PVO).

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Dormant Seeding Safflower

Safflower is usually planted in the spring, but growers and researchers have experimented with the feasibility of dormant seedings late in the season (November through early January), just before the ground freezes and is covered with snow. These delayed plantings do not sprout prior to the arrival of cold weather, which minimizes winter kill, but allows the plant to get an earlier start growing than spring planted safflower.

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Safflower Planting Trials

Utah is one the top producing states for safflower. It is mainly produced on dryland farms in rotation with wheat, but has also been used in irrigated areas because it can provide reasonable economic returns with little irrigation. Utah State University has conducted a series of trials for both dryland and irrigated safflower to investigate the influence of variety, planting rate, and row spacing on safflower yield and quality. Learn more below.




The Ten Most Common Mistakes in Using No-Till

Interest in no-till (NT) crop production practices has increased greatly among Utah farmers and ranchers in recent years. The primary benefits of implementing a cropping system with little or no tillage includes improved soil quality (improved soil moisture retention, improved soil structure, greater nutrient cycling, and increased soil organic matter) and increased economic profitability (reduced labor, equipment costs, and fuel). Although new to many Utah growers, NT has been successfully utilized by producers across the U.S. for many years.

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Irrigation of Safflower in Northern Utah

Most safflower in Northern Utah and Southern Idaho is grown under dryland conditions; however, irrigated safflower can provide higher yields and increase net returns. Two perceived concerns with irrigated safflower are an increase the severity of Alternaria leaf spot disease and delayed maturity in the fall. The objectives of the studies were to determine impact of irrigation on safflower yield and Alternaria leaf spot disease.

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General Irrigation

4R’s of Irrigation Management

The research community and fertilizer industry have developed and utilized a framework termed “4R nutrient management” to help improve fertilizer stewardship. For decades, national and international organizations and institutes such as The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) and International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) have worked diligently to promote the research and use of fertilizer 4R’s.

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Defense Against Drought

Utah’s climate can often be harsh and unpredictable. As the nation’s second driest state, Utah is commonly subject to droughts. Extensive statewide droughts have often lasted 5 to 6 years. It is imperative that farmers are well prepared to defend against drought to minimize risk and losses.

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Economic Feasibility of Solar Photovoltaic Irrigation System Use in Great Basin Forage Production

The Great Basin is primarily located in Nevada, western Utah, and small sections of southern Oregon and Idaho. The Great Basin is noted for its arid conditions and high percentage of publically owned land. The potential for solar energy generation in the Great Basin is vast.

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Water Rights in Utah

If you are connected to a municipal system, your water is probably categorized as “culinary or municipal water” and is used for everything from drinking and bathing to washing the car to watering tomatoes. However the Utah Division of Water Rights takes a more itemized approach to water use when applied outside of a municipal system.

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How Well Does Your Irrigation Canal Hold Water? Does it Need Lining?

Irrigation canals placed in native soil or lined with earth can have seepage water losses varying from 20 percent to more than 50 percent. Well designed, new compacted earth lined canals can have reduced seepage losses similar to concrete lined channels. However, consistent and regular maintenance is required to keep seepage losses low.

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Energy Conservation with Irrigation Water Management

Irrigators in Utah experienced rapidly increasing energy costs from the mid 1970s to the late 1980s. These costs remain relatively high. Those who are pumping from deep wells are particularly interested in ways to cut back on energy use without doing away with profitability or production.

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How Good is Your Water Measurement?

Accurate water measurement is essential to maintaining equity of water delivery within an irrigation company or water districts. Good management of our scarce water resource is dependent upon quantifying supplies and uses with accurate measurement techniques. State water rights adjudication and management procedures often require installation of water measurement devices and keeping records of flows.

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Costs and Returns for Non-Irrigated Safflower

Enterprise budgets are the building blocks of a farm or ranch. They represent estimates of income and expenses for a specific period of time using a set of production practices and inputs for that enterprise. Tables in this research is intended to be a guide used to estimate income and expenses, list inputs and production practices, and provide a framework for the whole farm plan.

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General Economics


Understanding Pesticide Risks: Toxicity and Formulation

Pesticides are substances that control unwanted organisms. A pesticide can be used to prevent, destroy, repel, or mitigate pests. Common pest organisms include insects, plants, fungi, bacteria, plant-parasitic nematodes, viruses, snails and slugs, and nuisance vertebrate animals. Risks of pesticide exposure to humans, other nontarget species, and the environment are primarily influenced by a pesticide’s toxicity and formulation.

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Grasshoppers are among the most conspicuous insects in Utah, and are viewed by many as also among the most injurious to our crops and rangelands. In any given year, thousands of acres may be sprayed throughout the state to reduce potential damage. While at times grasshoppers may inflict intolerable loss, we must recognize that only a few species cause economic damage. We must also understand that because outbreaks can occur simultaneously across the landscape, suppression programs may be successful only when they are wellplanned and carried out over large acreages.

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Boom Sprayer Calibration for Pesticide Applications

To protect your investment in agricultural pesticides, a boom sprayer should be calibrated at the start of the season and whenever application conditions change. Also, sprayer output should be periodically checked throughout the season to assure proper application rate. Although boom sprayers are calibrated in a variety of ways, each method utilizes the measurements of nozzle flow rate and equipment travel speed.

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Safflower Fertilizer Requirements

Several factors influence fertilizer recommendations for safflower, including expected yield, previous crop, available soil moisture and how much irrigation water can and will be applied. Nitrogen is one of the most limiting nutrients for safflower. A general rule of thumb is that for every 100 pounds of seed per acre produced, safflower plants will require 5 pounds of applied nitrogen.

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General Fertility


Noxious Weed Field Guide for Utah

Invasive noxious weeds have been described as a raging biological wildfire – out of control, spreading rapidly, and causing enormous economic losses. Millions of acres in North America have been invaded or are at risk of being invaded by weeds, including cropland, pastures, rangelands, forests, wilderness areas, national parks, recreation sites, wildlife management areas, transportation corridors, waterways, wetlands, parks, golf courses, even yards and gardens. Noxious weeds are capable of spreading at rates of up to 60% annually.

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Fortifying Farms and Ranches Againgst Weed Invasion

The problem with newly introduced weeds is that they are often more aggressive, persistent, harmful, and more difficult to control than those historically managed. Any farm or ranch in the western U.S. has at least a few weeds that have come from other places that are now having a negative impact on profitability. Regardless of the number of weeds that currently infest a farm or ranch, there are literally hundreds of new weeds in neighboring farms, towns, counties, states, and even countries that threaten to gain entry.

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