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 2013

Sunflower Marketing Guide for Growers 2013 – Available Now

The Australian sunflower industry has made marketing easier for growers with the release of the Sunflower Marketing Guide for Growers 2013. The guide is the first of its kind released in Australia and offers growers of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and birdseed varieties a `one stop shop’ for sourcing information on marketing options in an easy-to-read two page brochure.

Produced by the Australian Sunflower Association (ASA) in association with the Australian Oilseeds Federation (AOF) and Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), the comprehensive guide lists the contact details and quality criteria such as seed size, variety, test weight, moisture and contaminant specifications of all Australian sunflower buyers.

The buyer listing includes three large-scale crushers who market monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and organic oils for human consumption and 14 buyers operating in the domestic and export confectionary, stockfeed and birdseed markets producing sunflower kernels, whole grains, and protein meal.

The Marketing Guide is attached as pdf document to this eNewsletter, and is also available to download from the AOF websiteIf you have problems viewing the 2013 Marketing Guide for Growers, or receiving it, contact Liz Alexander, AOF Better Sunflowers Coordinator 0429 471 511 or


Sunflower Industry to Converge on Gold Coast for Conference

It’s rare that conversations around a resort in the heart of Queensland tourist mecca The Gold Coast would centre on grain farming. That will be the case in June however when the RACV Royal Pines Resort plays host to the 2013 Australian Summer Grains Conference from 17-19 June this year.


The 2013 conference showcases five grains - maize, soybean, sorghum, sunflower and mungbeans - and will attract growers, researchers, marketers, crushers and customers from across Australia. It will also host an exceptional line-up of international and Australian speakers to discuss every facet of agriculture relevant to summer grains from economics, farming practices, agronomy, technology, new research and development to marketing, product end-use and emerging opportunities.


Sunflowers will take centre stage during the conference with several keynote speakers including Thomas Gulya, an Adjunct Professor with the Plant Pathology unit at North Dakota State University who works closely with the Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Research Service. Mr Gulya is renowned for his research into the various aspects of sunflower disease systems, particularly downy mildew, rust, Phomopsis stem canker, and Sclerotinia diseases.

In keeping with the grain industry’s on-going quest to improve production, product quality and profitability, the theme of the four day conference is `innovate, grow, prosper’ and topics covered will include biosecurity, herbicide resistance, commodity marketing and crop management in variable climates.


Conference chair and Australian Sunflower Association (ASA) member Maree Crawford said that “This conference will host the most international speakers ever seen at a summer grains conference in Australia with speakers from North and South America, India and South East Asia. This is in keeping with a general recognition that emerging countries like India and South East Asia are going to play an important role in our industry in the future.”

Day one of the conference will focus on technical topics while day two is heavily weighted towards farmers and advisors, including presentations from several farmer speakers; “This conference will be particularly relevant to farmers and it presents an excellent opportunity for them to hear valuable up-to-date information first hand,” Maree said.  “We are encouraging as many farmers to attend as possible by offering a large reduction in the registration price – farmer registrations are down to $450 which represents exceptional value for money.


“With the conference dovetailing into the first week of the school holidays, a partners program has also been included this year to increase the relevance and diversity of information provided for those attendees who are involved in additional areas of the farming enterprise. The other first for this conference is the inclusion of a `Women in Ag’ session in recognition of the valuable contribution that women make to farming and farming enterprises.”

Recognition of individuals’ contribution to farming will extend into the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Conference Dinner on Wednesday evening June 19, with the GRDC selecting and presenting a Women in Ag industry contribution award and a national farmer award while each grains industry, including the Sunflower industry, will present an Outstanding Contribution to Industry award.

For more information on the Summer Grains Conference visit or Facebook!/pages/Australian-Summer-Grains-Conference/396987430389401.


STOP PRESS: $100 Sunflower Industry Support to attend the ASGC

The Australian Sunflower Association will fund $100 towards the cost of registration for sunflower growers, consultants and other industry members who register for the Australian Summer Grains Conference before the early bird rate closes on 12 April 2013. However the number of subsidies is limited, and applications will be accepted on a first-in-best-dressed basis.

To request a subsidised registration application form, contact Liz Alexander, Better Sunflower Coordinator on 0429 471 511 or via email


Sunflowers Shine at December Field Walks

The pre-Christmas summer heat didn’t deter growers and industry representatives from attending sunflower field walks in Southern Queensland and Southern NSW during December. Around 25 people attended the first field walk held on Friday December 14, 2012 at Trevor Burt’s property “Tavoy” at Nandi, near Dalby in Southern Queensland’s Darling Downs region. Attendees inspected a paddock of sunflowers, the majority of which was irrigated via centre pivot while the remainder was raingrown. The crop looked good considering there had been very little rain since planting, according to Australian Sunflower Association (ASA) Chair and field day speaker Kevin Charlesworth.


ASA committee members Sue Thompson, Angus Blair, Belinda Chase and Paul McIntosh also attended as did several seed company and merchant representatives and grain storage specialist Philip Burrill who had some of his storage demonstration tools on display. In her role as Agri-Science sunflower pathology researcher Sue Thompson and development extension officer (Entomology) Kate Charleston spoke on insect and disease management while Kevin Charlesworth discussed the suitability of sunflowers to a rotational cropping program. AWB/Cargill also spoke on marketing options for growers. Questions ranged from agronomy to the economics of growing sunflowers and the day was extremely successful in bringing together growers and industry representatives to impart and share information in a friendly and relaxed setting.


Angus Blair, Dalby Rural Supplies, grower Trevor Burt and Chris Haire, Nuseed, at "Tavoy" Nandi via Dalby.

Irrigators and service industry members gather at Dave Cattanach's farm near Darlington Point
at the southern NSW field walk.

Other speakers on the day included Sue Thompson and NSW DPI district agronomist Loretta Serafin who spoke on disease and insect management. Questions from participants tended to centre on the technical aspects of growing sunflowers, particularly water usage. Marketing options for sunflowers were also discussed throughout the day with growers urged to consider both the oil market and the stockfeed/birdseed markets.

The second field walk was hosted by Dave Cattanach who farms near Darlington Point in the Riverina district of NSW on Wednesday 19 December 2012. The day attracted around 48 participants who were impressed with the Cattanach’s exceptional crop of sunflowers which were being grown as a rotation crop. Kevin Charlesworth also spoke at the Cattanach’s field walk and said the crop was one of the best he had ever seen both in terms of yield potential and management. “The crop was really well managed with no signs of disease and low populations of insects,” Kevin said. “That area of NSW is certainly a potential growth area for sunflowers as an alternative crop for growers to include in rotations.”

The ASA would like to thank the growers for hosting the field walks, and Kieran O'Keefe, formerly NSW DPI, and Angus Blair, Dalby Rural Supplies, for their assistance in organising the events.

 Grower Profile: David Cattanach, Darlington Point, NSW

David Cattanach has been a farmer at Darlington Point for the last 35 years. On his 600ha property he grows a range of winter and summer crops, under irrigation. His main crops are soft wheat and malting barley in the winter and corn, soybean and sunflowers in the summer. In the 2012/13 season his summer cropping program has encompassed 80ha of sunflower, 70ha of maize and 40 ha of soybean.


Although an unusual sight in southern NSW, sunflowers have distinct advantages which are making them an attractive irrigated summer crop option around Darlington Point. The attraction is not only in the positive gross margins on offer but also flexibility of the crop’s management, according to Dave.

“A wide sowing window allows either an early (September) or a late plant (January) depending on seasonal conditions,” he said. “This effectively splits the requirement for labour, machinery and irrigation water at critical times during the season and allows double cropping to become a more realistic option.

Dave Cattanach
Dave Cattanach chats to Scott Whiteman ROBE at the recent
Darlington Point Field Walk

“For irrigators in the south, sunflowers provide an option to get a small area planted before the sowing window for the other summer crops opens and also allows growers to utilise a late increase in allocation on a late sown crop.”

Dave says that sunflowers also have a lower water requirement at 5-6 ML/ha when compared to corn which usually requires 9 meg/ha. While their water use is comparable with soybean it is the wider planting window which gives sunflowers the advantage over its oilseed cousin. Sourcing sufficient agronomic information on sunflower production in southern Australia has proved a challenge for Dave this season with little local available experience on production aspects such as hybrid selection, plant population and irrigation timing. There have also been challenges post farm-gate with lengthy distances to a delivery point.


“While they are still an opportunity crop in the south, with continued growth in the market and attractive pricing they could easily make themselves a regular option,” Dave said.

To hear more, don’t miss the Australian Summer Grains Conference, where Dave Cattanach, Peter Winton, Liverpool Plains, NSW, and Peter Mifsud, Central Highlands, Qld, will be sharing their grower perspectives.

Trial Update: Simulated looper damage to sunflowers - how much defoliation is too much, and when?


Defoliation trial at R5
A large replicated trial has looked at the impact of defoliation (0, 25, 50, 75, 100%) at a range of crop stages (R1, R3, R5, R7, R9). Yield data only is available at this stage for the R1-R9 treatments. Seed size and weight measurements are not yet completed. These results are from preliminary analysis, and require more detailed analysis when all the data is available.

To summarise the results so far:


1) Significant yield loss occured only in treatments where 75-100% of leaf was removed.

2) Only R9 showed no loss of yield, even with total defoliation


The trial was not moisture stressed, receiving 2 irrigations and >200 mm rain.  The vegetative stage trial was done separately and later, and has not yet been harvested.

However, visually there seems to be very little difference between the defoliated and untouched plots.


The next step is to look at how much a looper eats (what leaf area), and work out from there how many loopers are needed to reduce leaf area of a sunflower plant to 25% - 50% (which is around where the threshold will be). This work will be done as soon as loopers start turning up, and will be a laboratory trial feeding looper larvae on sunflower leaves from hatching to pupation.


Dr Melina Miles, Principal Entomologist, Agri-Science Qld, 07 468 1369 or