Field Day Shines Spotlight on Sunflower
The NSW Department of Primary Industries showcased their summer crop trials at their
Liverpool Plains Field Station, Breeza on Tuesday 25th February. The afternoon,
which attracted over 20 local growers and agronomists, included speakers on mungbeans,
soybeans, sorghum and sunflowers. QDAFF plant pathologist, Sue Thompson, was on
hand to discuss the current disease situation, after visiting several crops in the
Ms Thompson commented, “This season has seen many growers with the cleanest
sunflower crops they have grown in a long time. Certainly while the dry conditions
have reduced yield potentials, the upside has been a lack of disease pressure from
the usual culprits like powdery mildew, Phomopsis Stem Canker and Alternaria which
have become prevalent in wetter years”.
Guy McMullen and Loretta Serafin walked the attendees through this season’s
sunflower trials which are being conducted under both dryland and irrigated conditions
at the research station. The main focus of research this season has been on comparing
interactions between varying plant populations and crop nutrition. In particular
the trials are focused on nitrogen and sulfur management to target higher oil contents.
There is also some preliminary work on comparing precision planting to cone seeding,
to investigate the effects which plant uniformity can have on final yield.
Local growers listening to Sue Thompson discuss sunflower diseases at the Breeza
Ms Serafin commented, “The current situation is that growers are using a variety
of equipment to establish their sunflower crops, ranging from precision planters
to air seeders and even combines. The machinery used for planting has the ability
to influence plant uniformity at both establishment and throughout the crops life
since sunflowers do not have the compensatory ability of sorghum to respond to plant
stand variability through tillering. As an industry we have always thought unevenness
in plant stands impacts on the evenness of maturity within crops, and their ability
to effectively source water and other nutrients as well as compete with weeds. This
research is a preliminary step in quantifying whether these impacts are real or
The overall feedback from the day was very positive with many growers commenting
on the high standard of the trial conduct and expressing their eagerness to see
the results at the end of the season.
Contact Loretta Serafin, Leader Northern Dryland Cropping Systems, NSW DPI, 0427
311 819 or email@example.com
Oilseeds: Domestic Monounsaturated sunflowerseed
prices continue to remain firm with grower contract prices above $700 per tonne
for July – September 2014 for delivery into Narrabri. The market continue
to see supported in both international high oleic sunflower oil prices and also
domestic meal prices. This strength high oleic sunflower oil prices is due to reduced
high oleic crop in both Europe Argentina, despite amply supplies of classic sunflower
in the market. Given the small percentage of high oleic sunflower crops produced,
high oleic oil and seed premiums are at very high levels. Oil World this week reported
that Argentina will grow its smallest sunflowerseed crop in 30 years at 2.3 million
tonnes. Due to the dry conditions in Northern NSW and QLD, domestic demand for sunflower
meal is also strong.
Alexander Byrne, Merchant – Crush & Oilseeds, Grain and Oilseed Supply
Chain Australia Cargill, 03 9250 0016 or
Grey Stripes: A shortage of planting seed
early in the season meant that the industry were always going to be looking down
the barrel of short supply this season. On the back of this, we have seen some traders
and end users resort to importing product from other countries in a bid to fill
short positions. From all reports the Indian product is an inferior product as it
has small grain size, is light and has a dull appearance. The South American product
however seems to be comparable to the Australian quality we are used to. We are
hearing prices being offered anywhere from $1250 to $1350 delivered Brisbane for
machine dressed product in 20-25kg bags. A number of paddocks have been harvested
across Queensland and NSW in the past couple of weeks and quality looks surprisingly
good considering the season we’ve had. Agrifoods Australia have no doubt that
the Australian product should trade
at a premium but just how much is yet to be determined…
Blacks: There is a reasonable plant across
the sunflower growing regions this season and demand for black sunflowers at this
stage is very good. Early crops are now being harvested and quality seems good,
again, considering the season we’ve had, although the test weight of some
lines have been marginal. There are quite a few companies out there competing for
their slice of the market and as expected the growers with the first crops were
bowled over with interest. As harvest progresses, we’d expect this interest
to settle somewhat and prices to settle from the approximate $300/mt increase we
have seen year on year. We’d expect the market to still trade at a significant
premium on last year but just how much… who knows?
Andrew Webster, Senior Commodity Merchant, Agrifoods Australia 0488 619 816 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit the Better Sunflower website
https://bettersunflowers.com.au/user/marketing.aspx to access the full register
of buyers of Australian sunflowers.
and Storage Video Soon to be Available
Growers are urged to keep an eye out for upcoming videos produced by GRDC which
will provide invaluable information on sunflower harvest and storage (drying and
cooling). Filmed in the second half of February, film crews visited ASA Chair Kevin
Charlesworth harvesting at his property “Mirradong”, and the Piper family’s
sunflower storages at Felton East. Areas of interest covered identifying crop maturity,
harvester set up, ensuring an accurate sample quality and fire safety.
Philip Burrill, Senior Development Agronomist, Postharvest Grains Protection Team,
will also appear on camera discussing the results of recent storage quality trials
with co-operators the Piper family. He covers types and suitability of storage,
potential pests and controls and looks at drying and cooling aeration. Phil also
outlines the differences between oilseed and cereal storage.
All videos are scheduled to appear in the upcoming GroundCover TV Episode 13 SUPPLEMENT.
They will assist sunflower producers to weigh-up the storage strategies in regards
to drying and cooling post-harvest, and help source good advice on the correct equipment
to use and its operation - all critical for growers looking to build and maintain
a reputation for suppling quality sunflower seed. The ASA gratefully acknowledges
GRDC, Kevin, Phil and John for their support.
For more information on sunflower storage, contact Philip Burrill, Senior Development
Agronomist (Postharvest Grain Protection), DAFFQ, 07 4660 3620 or
A unique art experiment in north Melbourne has been hailed a “blooming success”.
Artist Ben Morris transformed a disused industrial area into a field of yellow.
Next? He aims to plant a field of dreams in every suburb…
Australian Broadleaf Cropping Project 2013- 2016
Australian Oilseeds Federation, Pulse Australia and the GRDC have recently signed-off
on a new 3-year industry development project to provide growers and advisors with
the knowledge and confidence required for them to lift the proportion of broadleaf
crops grown in Australian farming systems.
The essential role of broadleaf crops (and pastures) in broadacre farming systems
is well documented and both growers and advisors acknowledge the significant benefits.
Despite this, the adoption of broadleaf crops is below optimal levels for overall
farm system profitability and sustainability.
Pulse Australia chairman, Peter Wilson, said that pulse and oilseed crops provide
similar benefits to cropping rotations and could be promoted together for their
important contribution to farming systems and farm profitability. “An industry
wide approach to industry development has worked well for pulses and we now have
an opportunity to collaborate with the oilseed industry to cross-promote all broadleaf
crops,” he said. “Each broadleaf crop commodity is relatively small
compared to the major cereals but collectively they represent a significant part
of Australia’s grain production.”
Australian Oilseed Federation executive director, Nick Goddard also believes that
synergies exist within the broadleaf crop industry. “The opportunity to work
closely with researchers investigating the agronomy of specific crops and topics
common to all broadleaf crops is exciting,” he said.
The 3-year ‘Australian Broadleaf Cropping Project’ will support the
specialist team to provide targeted and highly relevant support services and materials
to growers, advisors and agronomists. They will work closely with R&D providers
(including GRDC funded projects) and state departments. The project will run to
31 August 2016.
Sunflower activities scheduled for the project include the delivery and updating
of existing industry tools such as the Better Sunflower Workshops, the eNewsletter,
and the website www.bettersunflowers.com.au.
The project will also deliver new fact sheets, a ‘best practice booklet’,
and continue to support the communication of research and development needs along
the value chain.
The key contact for the sunflower component of the project is the Better Sunflower
Coordinator, Liz Alexander, for the Australian Sunflower Association.
Contact Liz Alexander, ASA Better Sunflowers Coordinator 0429 471 511 or
Give You a Break
Here’s a few disease and agronomy breaks provided by sunflower:
- Sunflowers are resistant to Ascochyta Blight so are a good rotation with chickpeas.
- Sunflowers are resistant to Fov. so are a good rotation with cotton.
- Sunflower are resistant to Fusarium Stalk Rot of sorghum.
- Sunflower are resistant to the Fusarium spp assoc with Crown Rot of cereals.
- Sunflowers are resistant to the damaging nematodes Pratylenchus thornei and P. neglectus
so will not build up nematode numbers in your soils.
- Sunflower hybrids with good tolerance to TSV have been identified.
- Sunflower’s strong tap root is useful for hard pan breakup.
- Good options for grass control if you plant sunflower – Stomp, Dual, trifluralin,
‘pops and dims’
- Good broadleaf weed control option - post plant pre-emergent granule Promertryne
ASA Meets in
Governance structures, progress towards Australian Sunflower Industry Strategic
Plan goals and an update on the Australian Broadleaf Cropping Initiative were key
items for discussion when the ASA met in Moree last month. Hosted by AMPS Moree,
those attending travelled from Emerald to Sydney for the annual face-to-face meeting.
Kevin Charlesworth, Chair of ASA, said “The ASA is a member and sub-committee
of the Australian Oilseeds Federation (AOF). Among other things, the ASA is currently
investigating suitable insurance coverage of their volunteers, how corporate governance
may support funding applications, and the organisation’s future growth.”
Progress towards the goals set out by all of industry in the Australian Sunflower
Industry Strategic Plan has been substantial to date. The ASA noted particularly
the response by the many industry partners since the publication of the Plan. These
include the instigation of local storage options and quality testing being made
available to Central Queensland growers by AWB, NuSeed’s commitments to the
introduction of imi-tolerant sunflower hybrids through on-farm trials and DPI NSW
and DAFF Qld’s trial work in the areas of nutrition, irrigation and pathology.
The Committee also identified areas where increased effort was required. Particularly
the ASA is keen to support growers and advisers with regionally specific, gross
margin information which include sunflower in the crop sequencing to demonstrate
both its agronomic and financial benefits more fully. The organisation will develop
a project proposal for research partners to consider.
Gordon Cumming, National Manager & Senior Industry Development Manager (Northern
Region), Pulse Australia, also updated the meeting on arrangements for the joint
project with the AOF and ASA, described more fully in the previous article.
Former HSR Seeds manager Graeme Tooth, Quirindi, and former Dalby CRT agronomist
Angus Blair announced their retirements at the meeting. ASA Chair Kevin Charlesworth
thanked both men and particularly noted the contribution of Graeme Tooth “Toothy”
who served as former Chair for two years until end 2011. “Not only was Graeme
a great bloke, he actively promoted the industry in many forums and this has built
significant momentum for the organisation. We wish him well for whatever the future
holds.” The ASA sincerely thanked AMPS Moree for hosting the meeting and providing
Contact Kevin Charlesworth, ASA Chair, 0419 734 586 or
Good Luck Dr Tom Gulyak
USDA Pathologist Dr Tom Gulya retired in early February from the USDA-Agricultural
Research Service following more than 35 years as plant pathologist with the Fargo,
N.D.-based ARS Sunflower Research Unit. Industry members will remember Dr Gulya
as a keynote speaker at the 2013 Australian Summer Grains Conference, and for his
extensive tours with wife Katy catching up with growers, agronomists and industry
members throughout Central Queensland, Southern Queensland and northern NSW last
At the 2013 Australian Summer Grains Conference L-R: Kevin Charlesworth, Liz Alexander,
Dr Tom Gulya, Peter Mifsud, Sue Thompson
Dr Tom Gulya and Murray Sharman QDAFF visiting “Wandina”, Clermont,
Dr Gulya is internationally renowned for his research into the various aspects of
sunflower disease systems, particularly downy mildew, rust, Phomopsis stem canker,
and Sclerotinia diseases. He is also the recipient of an unusual honour; our Australian
sunflower plant pathologist Sue Thompson discovered three new fungal species that
cause a severe stem canker — and named one of them Diaporthe gulyae as a tribute
to Dr Gulya.
Dr Gulya has retained a strong interest in the Australian sunflower industry and
keeps up to date with our sunflower news through his subscription to this newsletter.
Tom, the ASA wishes you and Katy the very best for your retirement, thanks you for
generosity in sharing your knowledge with our research community, and welcomes your
return to Australia.
If you would like to learn more about Dr Gulya’s three and a half decades
in sunflower research, the US National Sunflower Magazine has published a great
interview; go to
Workshops Held in Toowoomba and Emerald
The one-day workshops for growers, advisers and industry members continue to generate
strong interest after two more well-attended workshops held in Toowoomba and November
in 2013. 21