If you live in an area where farming is common, you might’ve noticed that sunflower fields are often located very close to corn fields.
The reason why farmers plant sunflowers around corn fields is because they are distracting. Since birds often attack corn, sunflowers distract them, so they can eat sunflower seeds instead. Sunflowers also attract bees for pollination, and bring predatory insects that do a great job of keeping all types of bugs away from the corn. Some farmers are also dove hunters and plant sunflowers in order to attract doves.
There are lots of advantages of planting sunflower fields and corn fields close to one another. This article will explore the top reasons why farmers plant sunflowers around corn, the natural benefits and how they can benefit your corn at home.
8 Reasons farmers plant sunflowers around corn
Here are the top 8 benefits of planting sunflowers around corn and why you should do it at home.
1. Sunflowers are a natural barrier
When 5-6 rows of sunflowers are planted around a corn field they will protect the corn from strong winds. They provide a natural windbreak and are low cost and are economical. Corn grows better with sunflowers as a natural windbreak. They will help to stop the corn from being blown and bent over or even broken.
The corn has a chance to grow and thrive, and they can even prevent deer from reaching the corn. You won’t even have to worry about deer getting to the corn because they stay away from the sunflowers due to the sunflowers’ stems which are scratchy and uncomfortable. The sunflower rows hide the corn field rows from the deer.
2. Sunflowers can be a detoxing agent for the soil
Sunflowers are phytoremediators, their roots and stems will absorb certain contaminants and chemicals in the soil, detoxing the soil naturally so that it’s cleaner and healthier.
In both Chernobyl and Fukushima, sunflowers were planted in large numbers after their respective nuclear disasters. The result was a removal of a lot of the toxins left behind by the disaster and a much healthier soil remained in the end. The detoxification of the surrounding soil helps both the sunflowers and the corn stalks grow a lot bigger and better.
3. Reduces the impact of birds
Bird food contains sunflower seeds because birds love the seeds as a snack. In fact, birds love it so much that they’ll do anything to enjoy more of it. This is why if you plant sunflowers around a corn field, the birds will go towards the sunflowers first to eat the seeds instead of towards the corn.
Sunflowers will not keep birds completely away from the corn, but they have been shown to reduce crop damage by 10%.
4. Sunflowers attract bees to the area
Bees are attracted to the bright yellow sunflower petals. Sunflowers have a lot of rich nectar in them that the bees devour. If rows of sunflowers are planted together, the bees can easily fly from flower to flower and gather nectar along the way.
Attracting bees to the area is a great way to increase corn flower pollination. This leads to higher corn yields and more corn ears. This is also a great way to feed nearby bee colonies and help to keep the bees’ life cycle going. This is particularly advantageous since bees are now becoming under threat as a species.
5. Sunflowers and corn benefit each other
Sunflowers and corn are planted close to one another because they can offer mutual benefits. Corn can break up long branching root structures found in the soil, which create channels. If corn is planted before sunflowers, they will break open the soil and create channels for the sunflowers to access water and nutrients.
6. Sunflowers attract “good” insects
Lots of insects love sunflowers due to their bright yellow color, rich stems, leaves and nectar filled flowers. The longer the bugs are on the sunflowers, the less time they’ll spend damaging the corn.
In addition to this perk, many of these bugs are predators that will attach themselves to other bugs that also love sunflowers and will eat them. There will be fewer pests that get to the corn to damage the stalks. Ladybugs for example will seek out and pray on aphids which can suck the sap from corn stems.
7. Sunflowers attract doves
Until fairly recently, people thought this was a myth, but dozens of farmers have confirmed that when they plant sunflowers, they see more doves in the area. It is thought this happens because once the sunflowers are harvested and drop their seeds, there is a flat area that is attractive to doves.
If the farmer planting the sunflowers and corn plants is also a dove hunter, this is a huge advantage. The doves are not only more prevalent in the area but they are also easier to see because the sunflowers themselves have been harvested.
8. Sunflowers look amazing
Sunflowers are gorgeous flowers, so even if there were no other benefits to planting these flowers around a corn field they look beautiful. Sunflowers are tall, elegant, and have beautiful yellow flowers. They stand out among the many crops in the area.
Why Farmers Plant Sunflowers Around Corn Fields | Summary
Sunflowers are large, healthy-looking flowers that look beautiful and provide tons of benefits to both the corn stalks and many other crops in the area. Many farmers find that planting at least three rows of sunflowers around their corn crops provides all of the benefits mentioned above.
Sunflowers are beautiful but they can also save farmers both time and money. They are cheap to plant attract beneficial insects and can help to distract pests from your delicious corn.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.