Safflower offered as option to chemical summer fallow

The good, the bad and the ugly of safflower took center stage for one presentation during the annual Kansas Ag Research and Technology Association conference in Salina in January.

Dreamland Industries, based in Abilene, Texas, offered a presentation on safflower and also staffed a booth at the adjacent trade show during the event.

Shane Robertson, who gave the KARTA presentation, said safflower may be an option for those growers who are looking for an alternative to chemical summer fallow.

Safflower is an Old-World crop that produces a high-quality oil.

The crop is resistant to drought, putting down a long, thick taproot that also helps condition the subsoil. It stands up well to wind and hail, and is unpalatable to many wildlife species, making it pest-resistant.

Key Points

• Safflower can be an alternative crop to chemical summer fallow.

• The crop is drought-resistant and puts down a deep taproot.

• It will emerge in cool soils and is freeze-tolerant.

“As long as it gets water early in the growing season to get established, it grows,” Robertson said. “It uses no water after bloom, so it doesn’t remove moisture from the soil profile.”

In addition, it is tolerant of salt, making it an option for fields that have been degraded by noxious weed infestation, or where irrigation-water quality is degraded.

It also shows a beneficial relationship to subsequent crops, with cotton yielding 1 to 1½ bales better when planted behind safflower, he said.

Safflower will emerge in soil temperatures as low as 40 degrees F, and will tolerate freeze to 18 degrees F in the rosette stage, making a desirable crop for the High Plains, where it can be planted earlier than most other crops, Robertson said.

Most conventional drills have a setting for planting safflower, said.

Robertson said Dreamland Industries is now contracting acres in Kansas for safflower for oil production, and for bird and wildlife feed.

More information can be found at


Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University,

This article published in the March, 2012 edition of KANSAS FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2012.