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).
  August 2015
Date Claimer:  7-9 March 2016 3rd Australian Summer Grains Conference: featuring international and national sunflower presenters: Updates on Facebook or Twitter.


Get organised for the earliest planting date of any summer crop
ASA Committee member and agronomist Paul McIntosh shares his tips on soil temperature and planting:
It is well into July and our air and soil temperatures are very low throughout Eastern Australia. However on my rounds in the last few days I have observed some old sorghum plants pushing up some green tillers, Urachloa seedlings in a Western Downs fallow job and even the odd volunteer sunflower plant. It does make you speculate how these summer plants trying to grow at this cold time of year have got it so wrong.

With many regions having large acreages of tap rooted chickpeas planted to access that deep moisture, it is time to consider another tap rooted plant for that deeper moisture usefulness. Sunflowers as we know do develop an impressive root system that can penetrate many of our soil types. What you may not realise is their ability to germinate and grow at considerably lower soil temps than other summer crops. 

Landmark Senior Agronomist, Paul McIntosh, says sunflowers in the early stages can handle light frosts. (Photo courtesy Loretta Serafin, DPI NSW)
The first question that needs answering is how do you really ascertain your soil temperatures for the planting date decision to be made? Here is my preferred method and has worked fairly well over many years.

First, obtain a reasonably accurate soil thermometer and at your potential seeding depth level, insert the shaft of the instrument parallel with the bottom of your seed trench. In other words just, do not stick it in from the surface downwards. This should be performed at about 8.00 am in morning in quite a few paddock locations. Late in the afternoon another series of tests should be performed and temps noted. Add these numbers together and divide by 2. This will give you an average soil temp for the day.

So you come up with say a figure of 6 degrees C as an average. Now it just so happens that most of my years of knowledge and research advises that 6.0 degrees C is the minimum soil temperature for sunflowers.

So you come up with say a figure of 6 degrees C as an average. Now it just so happens that most of my years of knowledge and research advises that 6.0 degrees C is the minimum soil temperature for sunflowers. Note I said minimum. You also need to take into serious consideration the paddock aspect. For example, it is a given that paddocks having a northern aspect (in other words they have a north face) are going to be warmer due to the sun's direction and intensity. The southern facing ones are going to be in the shade longer without the intensity, so are going to be much cooler parts. Even the rills in the paddock can offer North and South aspects for a major temperature difference.

Now I am not going to say that one day of testing is the whole answer, so you better be prepared to do this for a few days in advance of the decision to plant.

My other bit of advice is that if you have to wait a few days extra, that may not be a bad thing as we all know that the longer some seedlings are in cool and wet soil, the more chance of seedling diseases taking hold. Yes, sunflowers in the early stages surprisingly can handle light frosts, however I am addressing the seed imbibing soil moisture and starting the germination and emergence process, which is most delicate of a plant's physiology. Let's face it, a poor or very uneven strike is nothing but trouble from day one.

So get organised for the earliest planting day of any of our summer crops with your sunflowers. Do the usual things of checking adequate soil moisture levels, nutrition levels and consider weed control options. The whole scheme of things is to maximise your mms of moisture into dollars and to do this you need all things, including soil temperatures to be accurate and believable.

Contact: Paul McIntosh, Senior Agronomist, Landmark on 0429 566 198 or

Updated Better Sunflowers resources now available

Three of the Better Sunflowers key resources have been updated in recent weeks; Sunflower Marketing Guide for Growers, Big Yellow Sunflower Pack and the Better Sunflowers website.

Sunflower Marketing Guide for Growers - July 2015 Update
You hopefully noticed the full page insert of the Australian Sunflower Associations Sunflower Marketing Guide for Growers in the recent issue of the Australian Cotton and Grains Outlook. This important resource is updated annually with current contacts for known buyers of Australian Sunflower, and includes a quality criteria matrix provided by buyers. This resource is also available via the Better Sunflowers website as a PDF document and as a searchable database.  Both are available under the Marketing tab

For further information contact: Liz Alexander, Coordinator Better Sunflowers, 0429 471 511 or

Big Yellow Sunflower Pack
The Third Edition of the Big Yellow Sunflower Pack (BYSP) was updated in May, just in time for the recent Better Sunflowers Workshop held in Tocal. The BYSP is a key resource of the Australian Sunflower Association's Better Sunflowers Program developed with the assistance of; Australian Oilseeds Federation, Grains Research and Development Corporation, Queensland Government, University of Southern Queensland and NSW Department of Primary Industries. The BYSP contains  recent research, trial work and other newly available information and is also available on the website.

Better Sunflowers Website
The Better Sunflower website has now been update to include the current versions of the Big Yellow Sunflower Pack and the Sunflower Marketing Guide for Growers. These key resources are made available electronically on the website for benefit of the entire industry.  Keep an eye out for further resources to be updated soon.

Quality the focus at ASA’s Newcastle “Meet Market Requirements” tour

Ponder this when you enjoy your next TimTam – it’s likely you’re consuming an hydrogenated oil product made from Australian sunflower and processed at Newcastle. This fact was one of many highlights for the 32 individuals who toured Cargill’s Kooragang Island Crush Plant, Oil Refinery and Oil Terminal on Wednesday 27 May.

Growers and agronomists travelled from as far north as Clermont, Central Queensland and as far south as Swan Hill, Victoria for the Sunflower Industry ‘Meeting Market Requirements’ Tour with generous support from the Grains Research Development Corporation (GRDC).

The clear focus for everyone attending was the overriding importance of quality along all parts of value chain.
 Newcastle Crush Tour Participants
Attendees at ASA's Newcastle "Meet Market Requirements" Tour. (Photo courtesy Charlie Bell, Tocal, NSW DPI)
Respected speaker Lucky Interissi, is the Technical Services Leader for Cargill and liaises directly with refined oils customers in the Asia Pacific. He told those attending that end users across Asia and Australasia were reformulating their food products to be lower in saturated fat which had generated unprecedented market demand for sunflower oil not seen by Cargill before.

Growers and agronomists learnt first-hand about the crushing process and the importance of oilseed quality to efficient processing. Nick Ebrill, Plant Manager at Kooragang Island, emphasised the importance of having adequate seed moisture and admixture control at farm.

These variables really affect the processing performance of the sunflowers through the crush plant and they can also affect the quality of the oil and meal produced,” he explained.

All speakers reaffirmed that the processing sector was strongly encouraging Australian farmers to grasp the opportunity to grow the sunflower industry, and produce more quality oils to not only meet domestic demand (more than 50% of domestic sunflower production is from imported oils) but also to supply key Asian markets.

Thanks to the volunteer film crew from DAF Qld, industry members can catch up with the tour participants as they share their learnings and highlights on  or

Following the tour, a bus load continued their big day out by attending the first State of Origin game in Sydney – obviously this was enjoyed more by the Queensland contingent than their NSW counterparts!

The ASA thanks GRDC, Cargill and the many individuals who supported the tour. After receiving such positive feedback received by those attending, the ASA will aim to hold more ‘Meeting Market Requirements’ events in the future.

Better Sunflowers workshop held in Tocal NSW
Weed identification session at Tocal Better Sunflowers workshop (Photo courtesy Alicia Dunbar, OmnibizCQ)
Another well attended Better Sunflower one day agronomic workshop was held at Tocal, Paterson via Newcastle in May. Many of the growers and advisers who travelled to Newcastle for the tour of Kooragang Island took the opportunity to attend which provided a diverse range of experiences both regionally, and across value chain sectors.

Presenter Loretta Serafin, Northern Leader NSW DPI noted that many attending were interested in the basics such as row spacing and plant population recommendations, particularly skip row and wide row configurations for sunflower. A number who didn’t have dedicated sunflower equipment were also interested in how narrow spacing could be set. Another topic of discussion was nutrient use in particular nitrogen, and questions about sulphur and zinc.

Following the workshop, the ASA hosted an Industry Dinner featuring guest speaker Craig Douglas, Senior Lecturer at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University (RMIT)’s School of Architecture and Design. Industry members heard about #getsunflowered an innovative RMIT project to rejuvenate vacant land and unite struggling regional communities planting sunflowers across sites in the Latrobe Valley, Gippsland, Victoria.

Better Sunflower workshops are jointly presented by the Australian Sunflower Association (ASA) and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) as part of the Australian Broadleaf Crop Initiative.

Growers and advisers can register their interest in future workshops by contacting Better Sunflower Coordinator, Liz Alexander on 0429 471 511 or

Glyphosate Permit Extension
The current glyphosate permit PER13118 has been extended to March 31st 2016. A permit renewal application was submitted to the APVMA in March, so it is anticipated the renewal should occur prior to the current permits expiry. Also the GRDC funded residue trial data, used to support the permit renewal, has been provided to a registrant who has indicated interest in adding the use to their label. At this stage there is no timeframe for when the label extension might be completed.

Contact Kevin Bodnaruk, AKC Consulting on 02 9499 3833.

Avoid MRL risk by adhering to the Haloxyfop label (Verdict® 520, Firepower, Exert 520, Haloxyfop 520)
An industry wide initiative between registrants, GRDC and APVMA attempted to reduce the risk of MRL violations by changing the label wording.  All Haloxyfop labels had this change made in 2015 to provide clarity around application timing (growth stages). Haloxyfop used as per label and applied within the recommended crop growth stage (2nd leaf to head initiation) for sunflower, will result in acceptable levels of residues below established MRLs. Avoid “off-label” use of Haloxyfop by not spraying at any time during or following flowering.  Additionally, growers supplying sunflower for the horse and stockfeed markets must take care to observe the withholding period of 28 days after application.

Chris Love, Development Manager, Dow AgroSciences (07) 3377 0835 or

Five reasons to plant sunflowers in 2015
  1. Because you have a grass problem in your sorghum
  2. Because you want to plant early 
  3. Because you want a plant that can access deep moisture
  4. Because you are looking for a different crop rotation
  5. Because you know you'll have the support of a great team and the Better Sunflowers website behind you.
(Reason Six: Because your wife will appreciate a paddock full of flowers)

Do you have a paddock with a grass issue? Incorporating sunflower into your rotation may provide a solution.

Rosebowl Sunflower Competition 2015
The 2015 Rosebowl Sunflower competition was brought a mix of new and familiar entrants to the fore. With a total of 11 crops entered into this years judging including 7 early plant and 4 late planted crops from across the Liverpool Plains. Overall the yield potential of the late plant crops has been higher due to the in crop rain, but the early crops were a credit to their owners in light of the dry conditions.

First Place - Spring Ridge - Representing the Spring Ridge competition, Mark & James Elsley are this years winner of the Rosebowl competition. Their crop of Hyoleic 41 was sown using a John Deere Max Emerge planter on 75 cm row spacings. The crop was sown into a fallow from Sorghum on the 19th December. A little over 42,000 plants/ha were established with even head sizes, averaging 16.2 cm in diameter. The paddock was in very good condition at judging with a low weed population. A total of 131 points and estimated to yield 2.3 t/ha.
2015 Rosebowl Winners, Mark and Joan Elsley, Spring Ridge, with Loretta Serafin, NSW DPI.

Second Place - Quirindi Late Plant - Michael Norman and Elliott Tourle produced a nice crop of Ausigold 62 to place second in the years Rosebowl. The crop was sown with a John Deere Max Emerge on the 31st December into a sorghum fallow. A total of 35,900 plants/ha were established into a paddock with 200 kg /ha of Urea applied. The paddock was a little gappy but otherwise had average head diameters of 21.5cm. A total of 129 points and estimated to yield 2.5 t/ha.

Third Place - Quirindi Early Plant - Third place was awarded to Rob Cropper “Greenhills Pastoral” Quirindi with a crop of Ausigold 62 sown on the 10th October in the early planting window. The yield potential of this crop was also high with an established plant population of 37,000 plants/ha and an estimated yield of 2.2 t/ha. A total of 127 points were awarded.

Loretta Serafin, Leader, Northern Dryland Cropping Systems, Tamworth, NSW Department of Primary Industries, 0427 311 819 or

Case Study: Mark, Joan and James Elsley, Spring Ridge
Rosebowl Cup Winning Sunflower Crop – Hyoleic 41
The Elsley Family, “Inverness” Spring Ridge, won the prestigious 2015 Premer Rosebowl Cup for the best sunflower crop. Mark and James had sown the crop in the best paddock with known good weed control and with a full profile of moisture. Their prize winning crop of Sunflowers was Hyoleic 41 - a Pacific Seeds medium to full season maturing variety with excellent disease resistance, semi-pendulous heads and good production of mono-unsaturated oil. The crop received approximately 180 mm of in crop rainfall.

Crop Details
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