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 2013
Highlights, Deliver Information in a Click

The Australian sunflower industry recently launched the Better Sunflowers interactive website aimed at enhancing the information flow between growers and key industry personnel. The website was developed in response to calls from growers and service industry representatives for greater access to training and extension services during a series of the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) funded Better Sunflower workshops held throughout Queensland and New South Wales last year.

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.

Funded with support from GRDC and sunflower agribusiness partners, the easy-to-use website offers comprehensive information on agronomic, pest and weed management, marketing options and technical support contacts at both a general and member-only level. Free information is available on a range of production and post-production topics from plant growth and development, irrigation management, pest management and harvesting to storage and marketing. Contact details for all major Australian sunflower buyers and their specific quality criteria are also available as well as an industry events calendar and the Better Sunflowers quarterly newsletter.

Members who pay a one-off subscription fee of $120 plus GST can access more targeted information through the online version of the `Big Yellow Sunflower Pack’, video tutorials and workshop presentations and automatically direct specific questions to the relevant technical expert. The site will also provide the opportunity for growers, advisers and industry members to undertake the Better Sunflower accredited workshops training online in their own homes, in their own time. The agronomic training is accredited through the industry’s partnership with Tocal College, NSW DPI and available soon.

The website was developed by Better Sunflowers Coordinator Liz Alexander in conjunction with Dan Hickey, Morgan Rural Tech, and was officially launched during the Australian Summer Grains Conference, held in June on the Gold Coast.


One-Stop Sunflower Marketing Guide Now Available to Industry

Australian sunflower growers have a new tool to help manage their marketing decisions and maximise profitability. Last month’s release of the Sunflower Marketing Guide for Growers 2013 offers growers of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and birdseed varieties a `one stop shop’ for 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 is the first of its kind released for sunflower in Australia and lists the contact details and quality criteria such as seed size, variety, test weight, moisture and contaminants specifications of 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.


Hard copies of the Sunflower Marketing Guide for Growers 2013 were included in the July edition of the QCL and Land Grains and Cotton Outlook. If you missed out, you can download a copy from AOF & ASA Better Sunflower website

Sunflower Identities Recognised with Industry Contribution Awards

The Australian grains industry recognised some of its most valuable contributors during a gala dinner at the 2013 Australian Summer Grains Conference on the Gold Coast in June. The recognition celebrated their career-long dedication to the progression of their respective industries, culminating in a total of more than 150 years of farming knowledge and experience.


ASA chairman Kevin Charlesworth presented the Sunflower Industry Contribution award to fellow ASA committee member and highly experienced and respected plant pathology researcher with Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) Queensland Sue Thompson. Sue is a familiar face to many in the sunflower industry and is one of the leading sunflower pathologists across Australia and the globe. She has 20 years’ experience in sunflower pathology research, extension and diagnostics across a range of sunflower pathogens. Sue is also a PhD candidate with the University of Queensland and in 2012, was the only Australian researcher invited to speak at the 18th International Sunflower Conference held in Argentina. Her presentation focussed on her and her colleagues’ discovery of at least three previously undescribed Phomopsis/Diaporthe species on Australian sunflowers, a finding of both national and international significance.


The GRDC also honoured the significant industry contribution of women, presenting a Women in Agriculture award to agricultural extension and delivery specialist Liz Alexander, Blue Dog Agribusiness, Emerald. Liz has operated Blue Dog Agribusiness since 2007 and provides community-based planning, research, project management, communication and extension services for irrigated and dryland cropping, natural resource management and the rural training industry across eastern Australia. Liz operates in many roles including Co-ordinator of the Better Sunflowers program, a joint initiative between GRDC, the ASA and the AOF. This included assistance with the development and delivery of the Big Yellow Sunflower Pack and the new Better Sunflowers website, both of which are key sources of information for all segments of the value chain.



AWB Announces 2012/13 Sunflower Production Program

Top priorities for the industry from the recent ASA strategic planning process and grower survey were increasing or establishing bulk storage capacity in Central and Southern Qld, followed closely by expanding regional grain testing facilities to avoid penalties. AWB report that they have heard loud and clear the challenges sunflower growers face and are continuing to do what they can to address storage, pricing and production-related concerns.


An area where AWB has identified it can assist growers is by offering a contract that provides some production and pricing flexibility, and shares some of the input costs with the grower. The 2012/13 AWB Sunflower Production Program provides growers with a $15/ha seed rebate on contracted hectares and allows growers a 3 month window to fix a price on a proportion of their crop, without the risk of a washout in the event of production failure. With the crush facility in Newcastle, AWB believe that while there are obvious logistical challenges and costs that need to be considered, the company recognises that a local delivery point is vital and AWB are continuing to work on putting in place storage options for all of their supply regions.


AWB reports that in the markets, Sunflower Seed prices continue to hold up very well. Over the past 2-3 weeks Sunflower Seed has traded in a range between $610-$634 per tonne delivered Newcastle for August/September delivery. A combination of strong domestic demand for local Sunflower Meal and tight supplies of old crop Sunflower Oil and Seed supplies from both the Black Sea and Argentina has been seen as supporting values.


AWB has also reaffirmed their commitment to Australian sunflower growers to improve the clarity and transparency around pricing and markets. AWB are sending regular market updates and commentary and the company will add growers to their distribution list on request.

For more information on this service, or for a more detailed understanding of the Sunflower Production Program, please call your local AWB office. Contact James Urquhart AWB Specialty Business Manager, (03) 9250 0043

Tour Facilitates Cross-Continent Learning

World leading US based sunflower pathologist Dr Thomas Gulya travelled to the Liverpool Plains, Darling Downs and Central Queensland in June to discuss in-crop disease incidences and meet growers and industry personnel during informal meetings.

Above: Killarney Topcrop group with DAFF speakers and Dr Tom Gulya
Below: L-R Peter Winton, Tom Gulya & Peter McKenzie, Windy Station, Quirindi

Dr Gulya was accompanied by GRDC-funded Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) Queensland sunflower plant pathologist researcher Sue Thompson and DAFFQ principal plant pathologist Mal Ryley. DAFFQ cereal pathologist Stephen Neate and ASA president Kevin Charlesworth added their expertise to the group at a Topcrop meeting of 25 growers at Killarney while in Central Queensland, the group was joined by Nuseed’s Neil Weier, Murray Sharman from DAFFQ and Better Sunflowers co-ordinator Liz Alexander.


According to Ms Thompson the farm visits provided a valuable opportunity to exchange information and ideas on disease prevalence, impact and management strategies. “Our plan was to touch base with interested growers and advisors to discuss disease management of pathogens of concern,” Ms Thompson said. “The meetings were really well received, particularly in Queensland and growers were keen to discuss issues like the timing of fungicide applications for powdery mildew as well as phomopsis and TSV management.


“Sclerotinia is a disease which seems to be an emerging issue in many areas across a number of crops including sunflower so some of our discussions centred on that. One of the other issues we raised with growers was the ability of standing dead weeds and stubble to be a host for stubble-borne pathogens like the Phomopsis/Diaporthe species. With the farming systems we use now, this is shaping up to be a significant issue for disease management into the future.”


Contact Sue Thompson, Sunflower Plant Pathologist Researcher, DAFF Qld, 07 4688 1209, 0407 031 244 or

Rosebowl Success for Romani

The ASA congratulates the Romani Pastoral Company for their win at Premer district property “Mandeville” this year with manager Jim Mitchell taking home the 2013 Rosebowl Trophy for the best crop of sunflowers on the Liverpool Plains. Mr Mitchell planted the crop of Ausigold 62 in late December on the back of Christmas rain into a paddock fallowed from the previous summer’s sorghum.


The paddock received 80 units/hectare of Big N pre-sowing followed by FlowPhos S-Z at a rate of 50 litres a hectare as a starter fertiliser. Although the ground was relatively dry at sowing, the crop received a further 242mm of in-crop rain up to mid-April. Bird damage was significant across areas of the paddock but the crop still yielded well at around 2t/ha average. According to Mr Mitchell, sunflower fits well into the rotation program with wheat at Mandeville and is an attractive summer cropping option due to its labour efficiency with no requirement for desiccation.


Placing second in the Rosebowl trophy results were Caroona growers B&M Perkins with a crop of Ausigold 62 while third place was awarded to Parraweena Pastoral Co, Willow Tree, with a crop of Ausigold 4.

Jim Mitchell, Romani Pastoral Company (Photo courtesy of Neil Weier, Nuseed)


District results in the early plant


Mullaley/Tambar Springs
No entries
No entries
Quirindi/Willow Tree 1st
FC & EE Woods
Parraweena Past Co
Ausigold 62
Ausigold 4
Spring Ridge 1st
Kilgetty Farms
Niluan P/Ship
Ausigold 62
Ausigold 62
No entries
Caroona 1st
BA & MM Perkins
Romani Past Co
Ausigold 62
Ausigold 4