The Better Sunflower e-Newsletter is provided with the support of the Australian Oilseeds Federation (AOF), Australian Sunflower Association (ASA) & the Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC).
March 2015
Date Claimer: Tuesday 26 May 2015, Better Sunflower Workshop: one-day certified agronomic workshop for growers, agronomists and advisers, Tocal College via Newcastle

Date Claimer: Wednesday 27th May 2015, Tour of Cargill’s Kooragang Island Crush Plant, Oil Refinery and Oil Terminal, Newcastle

ASA Progressing Imidazolinone Registration

The Australian Sunflower Association (ASA) recently established an Imidazolinone Registration Working Group (IRWG) to advance the registration of imidazolinone herbicides supporting the commercial release of new imi-tolerant (IT) sunflower varieties in Australia. Members of the group include ASA Committee members and industry agronomists Paul McIntosh, Belinda Chase and Tony Lockrey; weeds consultant Vikki Osten; ASA Chair and grower Kevin Charlesworth and Better Sunflowers coordinator Liz Alexander.

IT sunflowers will have an important place as they offer herbicide options that will effectively broaden the spectrum of weed control within both the crop and across the cropping system. This is particularly important for the management of herbicide resistant summer grasses in the northern grain region. The use of imidazolinone herbicides (Group B) in IT sunflower will also provide some effective pre- and post-emergence broad-leaf weed control, the latter of which has been lacking and potentially a weakness for sunflower production. However, introducing and using imi-herbicides will require good stewardship and agricultural practices to maintain their effectiveness.

Imi-tolerant sunflower show no detrimental impact 8 days after spraying, compared to the conventional line. Hybrid trials on the Lockyer Valley 13 March 2015. Photo courtesy Chris Haire Nuseed.

The group is keen to progress registrations for imazapic (fallow) with IT sunflower as a re-crop option, and also a commercial imazamox/imazapyr mixture for use in-crop that will provide pre-and post-emergence control of grasses and broadleaves. The group is currently seeking advice from Steve Jones (Aglign Consultant; GRDC minor permits project) as to what data needs are required to have these herbicides and use patterns registered.

At the end of March, IRWG will meet with chemical industry representatives to see where co-operation and collaboration between them and the ASA may occur to progress registration as quickly and effectively as possible. The imidazolinone herbicides need to be available (registered for use in IT sunflower) before the IT varieties are released. Stay tuned for updates on the group’s progress.

Contact Vikki Osten, Consultant Specialist, Osten Weeds Consulting Pty Ltd on 0428 824 390 or

Double header in Newcastle showcases sunflower knowhow from paddock to plate

Two consecutive events in Newcastle will showcasing the sunflower value chain from production to consumer, and provide growers, agronomists and other industry members with the opportunity to meet and learn from the industry’s top professionals.

On Tuesday 26 May, Better Sunflower Workshop: one-day certified agronomic workshop for growers, agronomists and advisers will be offered at Tocal College. Those attending can learn and review hands-on tools and tactics for reliable and profitable sunflower production:
  • Plant physiology, agronomy and irrigation (Loretta Serafin, NSW DPI)
  • Weed management (Vikki Osten, Osten Weeds Consulting)
  • Insect management (Dr Melina Miles, DAFF Qld) • Disease management (Sue Thompson, USQ)
  • Harvesting Kevin Charlesworth, (Chair Australian Sunflower Association and grower)
  • Storage Philip Burrill (DAFF Qld)
  • Marketing Chris Bazley (former Qld Agricultural Merchants and grower)
  • Rotation risks and benefits Tony Lockrey (AMPS Moree)
Everyone attending the workshop will be the first to receive the newly updated 3rd edition Big Yellow Sunflower Pack (May 2015), the one-stop-shop resource for sunflower production in Australia. Workshop registration, including the Big Yellow Sunflower Pack, is excellent value at only $120 for early birds.

L: Growers and agronomists discuss pros and cons of cropping scenarios in an interactive rotation forum with agronomist Tony Lockrey at the 2014 Moree Better Sunflower workshop. R: GRDC is funding travel and accommodation to assist industry members to tour the Cargill Newcastle plant. Photos courtesy Sue Thompson USQ & Adam Murphy Cargill.

On Wednesday 27 May, Cargill will open the doors of the Kooragang Island Crush Plant and Oil Refinery. In addition to the tour, the morning will feature a summary and analysis of the season’s quality results, and practical on-farm solutions to optimise oil processing and meet consumer demands. Speakers include:
  • ASA Committee agronomist members
  • Lucky Inturrisi, Technical Services Leader, Cargill Refined Oils Asia Pacific
  • Nick Ebrill, Plant Manager, Cargill Grain and Oilseed Supply Chain
  • Nick Goddard, Executive Director, Australian Oilseeds Federation
GRDC is generously supporting the travel and accommodation costs for growers and advisers to attend the Kooragang Island tour. There is no cost to attend the tour, however registrations are essential and numbers are strictly limited.

For rugby league fans and those married to them, the ASA is also coordinating a group to attend the State of Origin match in Sydney on the Wednesday evening on the way home.

To attend any or all of these great events, industry members can register via the Better Sunflower website or fax/email the information flyer and registration form available here.  ASA will contact people upon receiving registration to coordinate bookings for accommodation and travel.

Contact Liz Alexander, Better Sunflower Coordinator on 0429 471 511 or

Sunflower Trials on Display at “Windy Station”

“Windy Station” Quirindi in northern NSW was the site for a sunflower field walk on the 11th February. Over 25 growers and advisors started off their day with a BBQ breakfast before walking through the research plots being conducted under the joint GRDC and NSW DPI funded “Tactical agronomy of minor oilseeds” project.

Sunflower Breeder Chris Haire (pictured) and Tony McCumstie Pacific Seeds outlined breeding objectives and new hybrids nearing commercial release.
Two research trials were viewed at the site; the first trial was comprised of three major agronomic components, hybrid selection, plant population and row spacing. Included in the hybrids were the current popular commercial lines Hyoleic 41 and Ausigold 62 as well as the new release T30152, a monounsaturated hybrid from Pacific Seeds. These hybrids were sown at three different plant populations, 25, 35 and 45,000 plants/ha and in three row spacing’s; 75cm solid, 100cm solid and a superwide (1.5m solid). d, 100cm solid and a superwide (1.5m solid).

Also generating grower and adviser interest at the site was a leaf contribution to yield experiment in the second trial. This trial will hopefully add to the data set initiated by Dr Melina Miles, DAF Qld with varying leaves removed from the plants at different growth stages. The experiments conducted by Dr Miles were focused on the impact of looper defoliation on sunflower yield. The trials at “Windy Station” were focused on a broader aim of collecting data on the impact of leaf defoliation which could then be applied to decision making regarding disease, insect or environmental eg hail impacts. Three main growth stages were targeted, budding, start of flowering and start of grain fill. 

Overall it was an informative morning with guest speakers,  sunflower breeder Chris Haire, Nuseed and local Pacific Seeds territory manager Tony McCumstie providing insight into the latest progress with sunflower breeding and new hybrids. The trials at “Windy Station” were harvested recently and results should be available in the coming months. 

Contact Loretta Serafin, Leader Northern Dryland Cropping Systems, NSW DPI, 0427 311 819 or 

Business as usual: sunflower pathology moves to USQ

Specialist summer crop pathology expertise has moved from DAF Qld to the Centre for Crop Health, University of Southern Queensland (USQ), on West Street in Toowoomba. For all diagnostics and general enquiries, contact Research Fellow Sue Thompson and her colleagues via their new mobile and email addresses:
  •  Sunflower, soybean: Sue Thompson mobile: 0477 718 593 or email
  • Sorghum: Jodie White mobile: 0457 546 633 or email
  • Other crops [maize, chickpea (Qld), fababean (Qld), misc.] contact Sue, Jodie or Mal
  • Project leader Mal Ryley: (part time) 0456 882 960 or email

Two New GRDC Sunflower Fact Sheets Offer Useful Reference for All Grain Growers:

New GRDC Integrated Disease Management Fact Sheet

Growers and agronomists looking for the most current tips and tactics to manage disease, and aid rotational choices will welcome the new GRDC Fact Sheet: Successful sunflower production using integrated disease management.

Referenced with relevant and clear photographs, this handy resource covers effective control of sunflower pathogens, and an up-to-date guide on the source of inoculum, methods of spread, symptoms of infection, and impact of management and environment on yield and quality.

A feature of the new IDM fact sheet are two ready reckoner tables, designed for the ute glovebox or office wall. One table summarises the disease implications of planting 16 common crops of the northern region following important sunflower soil and stubble borne diseases.

The second ready reckoner table provides growers and advisers with a tool to quickly and easily compare the rotational benefits and disease risks of crop selection following common diseases of other northern region crops. For some, sunflower calls up an unearned reputation for disease issues, but this table clearly displays the crop’s advantages as a profitable break crop for diseases of many crops.

This is the first time this information has been collated in a single document and in a simple 
 comparable format across northern region crops. The ASA is extremely grateful to the many researchers who assisted the authors in compiling the data. The fact sheet is available in hard copy on request from GRDC or can be downloaded from the Better Sunflower website: 

Contact Sue Thompson, Research Fellow (Summer Crops Pathology), University of Southern Queensland, 0477 718 593 or 

New GRDC Grain Storage Fact Sheet

The onset of harvest will see storage firmly on the agenda of growers looking to maximise market opportunities by supplying consistent quality sunflower seed. To assist growers successfully manage seed moisture contents (MC) and temperatures during harvest and storage, GRDC has released a new Grain Storage Fact Sheet: Safe Storage of Sunflower Seed – Aeration Drying and Cooling.

The Fact Sheet outlines recommendations for optimal seed storage across a broad range of moisture contents and temperatures, tips for setting up equipment, and summarises the results of on-farm trials run by the Qld DAF Postharvest Grain Protection Team and supported by the AOF and ASA.

Benefits of aeration drying include allowing growers to harvest sunflowers at high moisture contents, while maintaining oil quality. Aeration cooling provides flexibility by significantly reducing seed temperatures in a short period of time in cool, dry and uniform storage conditions.

The ASA thanks the ASA thanks the Postharvest Grain Protection Team and trial co-operators the Piper family, Felton, for their work on these helpful reference resources. For more information on aeration drying and cooling, download the Grains Storage Fact Sheet at or hard copies are 
available from Philip Burrill, Senior Development Agronomist, Postharvest Grain Protection Team. 

Contact Philip Burrill, Senior Development Agronomist, Qld DAF, (07) 4660 3620 or email

Tasmanian Field of Dreams

L: Clinton Cameron and Stephanie Paterson's field of dreams, Tasmania.  Photo courtesy of Neil Weier, Nuseed.
A bride’s dream to have her wedding photographs taken in a field of sunflower came to reality recently with some help from Nuseed. Stephanie Paterson married Clinton Cameron on her parent’s property “Moreton Hill” near Deloraine in northern Tasmania. As can be seen in the photograph, she made a beautiful bride surrounded by the equal brilliance of the sunflower.

About six months prior to the wedding, Nuseed Toowoomba was contacted by a good friend of the bride’s family, in the hope that they could get sunflower to flower on an exact day and date. With no flowering data for sunflower in Tasmania, it was decided to plant the first half of the field 105 days before the ceremony date, with the balance of the field sown two weeks later.

Through a stroke of good luck or a genius ‘stab in the dark’, the Ausigold 62 was majestic on the day of the wedding. In the words of many a fairy tale, they all lived happily ever after.

Contributed by Neil Weier, Sales Manager QLD and Northern NSW, Nuseed, 0429 622 056 or

Grower Case Study: Ashley and Felicity Stewart, “Wittenoom Hills”, via Esperance WA

Owners: Ashley and Felicity Stewart
Location: "Benview", Wittenoom Hills, 60kms NE Esperance
Farm Size: 3900 arable hectares, 50 ha sunflower
Avg Annual Rainfall: 450 - 475mm
Growing Season Rainfall: 18mm for this season
Soil Types: Duplex Soils (Acid Sand over Alkaline Clay), Sodic, High Boron
Crops Grown: Wheat, barley, canola, field peas, lupins

Esperance in Western Australia isn't the first place you think of when it comes to sunflower crops, but that hasn't deterred Ashley and Felicity Stewart of Wittenoom Hills. What started as a purchase at a clearing sale of one pallet of Hysun33 sunflower seeds has turned into an opportunity to make use of good subsoil moisture during summer.

Despite eight out of 10 years generally having good summer rainfall and a positive rainfall outlook for December and January coming into summer, their 50 hectare crop has received only 18mm of in-crop rainfall prior to Christmas. 150mm was received prior to planting in October/November.

The crop was planted on 23rd November into barley stubble on 90cm row spacings using a DBS seeder at 3kg/ha which gave approximately 20,000 plants/ha. As the area is predominantly winter cropping, the next crop will be canola or field peas - or left fallow if rainfall is not forthcoming. The Stewarts have planted sunflower into only half a paddock so that they can evaluate any moisture stress and/or yield penalties in the following crop.

L and R: Sunflowers were planted on 23 November 2014 using a DBS seeder at 90cm into barley stubble.  Photo courtesy Ashley Stewart.
A double knockdown spray of 1l/ha of Roundup followed by 1l/ha of paraquat and 2l/ha of treflan was applied prior to planting and volunteer cereals have been controlled in-crop with an application of 250ml/ha of Verdict. Their country is slightly undulating with drainage into creek lines and salt lakes. Ashley and Felicity are no-till farmers using knife points. 

Rutherglen bugs were an issue at flowering, which occurred around mid-January, where an application of 30ml/ha of Trojan was applied and another spray of dimethoate at 1l/ha was scheduled for the second week of March. 

With harvest looming they are looking into desiccation options. Harvest is likely to clash with seeding and Ashley is looking into options to use their current harvesting equipment.