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).
December 2013

Minister John McVeigh Launches the Australian Sunflower Industry Strategic Plan in Toowoomba

After nearly 12 months’ work by industry representatives and the input of more than 200 growers, advisors and service industry members, the Australian sunflower industry is set to enter a `new dawn’ this week with the release of a comprehensive five-year strategic plan to bolster crop profitability through improvements in logistics, market access and progressing vital research, development and extension work.

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 Queensland Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Dr John McVeigh MP launched the Australian Sunflower Industry Strategic Plan (2013-2018) on Friday November 22nd at the Nufarm Toowoomba Regional Service Centre at Wellcamp on Friday at 11:30am.


(L) ASA Chair Kevin Charlesworth with the Minister (R) ASA Committee members with Minister McVeigh at the launch.

Minister McVeigh stated that he was particularly drawn to the vision outlined in the plan of fully realising the market potential of sunflowers through four key areas identified as high priority over the next five years including:

  • Access to improved genetics
  • Removal of market and infrastructure barriers
  • Provision of increased knowledge and skills for growers and advisors to lift the area and volume of production
  • and the better management of disease pressure issues.

“The vision to ‘increase areas planted and yield of sunflowers’ resonates with this Government’s plan to double agricultural production by 2040,” said Minister McVeigh. “Similarly the Newman Government’s Queensland agricultural strategy equally identifies four key pathways for growth of the sector.”


Minister McVeigh emphasised the importance of the crop for grain growers in Central and Southern Queensland.


“I am extremely pleased to see so many examples of alignment between our two strategies indicating that we can work together in a win-win collaboration and achieve our shared visions for both the Sunflower industry and Queensland.” he said.


Australian Sunflower Association (ASA) chair Kevin Charlesworth welcomed the release of the plan saying it demonstrated a formal commitment by all partners in the value chain to cooperatively address current industry barriers and challenges and build the capacity required to support increased production.


“Sunflower is a profitable crop and has significant agronomic benefits when it is grown as part of crop sequencing,” he said, “Domestic demand for mono-unsaturated sunflower oil is rising annually and Australian production only fills approximately half of this market.”


The ASA will now work with key partners such as the Queensland and NSW State Governments, the Grains Research Development Corporation and commercial organisations to ensure that the resources and activities are secured for the five year plan to succeed.


Australian Sunflower Industry Strategic Plan as well as a full copy of the Minister’s speech can be viewed on the Better Sunflowers website



Register Now: Better Sunflower workshop Emerald

Central Queensland growers and advisers can register online now at to hear from some of Australia’s leading crop specialists next month during a comprehensive one-day Better Sunflowers workshop in Emerald.


The workshop is being held on Friday 13 December 2013 at the DAFF Qld Conference Room and will equip participants with the latest information in industry research, development and extension activities as well as the practical skills to maximise the profitability of sunflower production.


The workshop consists of eight modules written and delivered by acknowledged industry experts in the areas of marketing; plant growth and development; agronomy, including irrigation management; weed management; disease management; insect management; harvesting and storage. The day feature nutrition trial results, an updated Weed Management session and sunflower storage research completed this year by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Queensland (DAFFQ) Post Harvest team at Felton East.

Jointly presented by the Australian Sunflower Association (ASA) and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), the Emerald workshop is timely for Central Highlands growers given the recent rallying of the sunflower price.


All participants attending the workshop receive The Big Yellow Sunflower Pack, an informative and comprehensive folder containing the latest research on sunflower production in Australia, and a free year’s subscription to the Better Sunflower website member-only content.

The speaker line-up incorporates well respected industry specialists including international plant breeder Alan Scott; Leader Northern Dryland Cropping Systems, NSW DPI, Loretta Serafin; weed consultant specialist Vikki Osten; DAFFQ Extension Officer, Entomology Melina Miles; DAFFQ Sunflower Pathology Researcher, Sue Thompson; Clifton grower and Chair of the ASA Kevin Charlesworth; DAFFQ Senior Agronomist (Postharvest Grain Protection) Philip Burrill; and grower and Qld Agricultural Merchants Executive Officer Chris Bazley.


The per person cost of the one-day workshop is $135.00 (workshop only for registration) or $365.00 (workshop plus formal national accreditation as a Better Sunflower Adviser).


Register online or for more information contact Liz Alexander, Better Sunflowers Coordinator, 0429 471 511 or


Date Claimer: Central Highlands Sunflower Shed Updates: Wednesday & Thursday, 11 & 12 December 2013

  • BBQ at Orion Hall, 6pm Wednesday 11th December
  • Breakfast at Capella Hotel 6.30 am for 7am, Thursday 12th December
  • BBQ at Kilcummin Hall, 6pm Thursday 12th December

Come and hear the latest on available varieties for the summer plant, local storage options and the 2013/4 AWB Sunflower Program, crop rotations for weed management, in particular FTR & SS grasses and the Australian Sunflower Association’s direct response to your feedback – the Australian Sunflower Industry Strategic Plan.

Contact Greg Sandral on 4956 5855 or email


Selecting a sunflower hybrid

Every season there are always questions about which hybrid should be selected for growing this year. Usually the first question is about which hybrids have the highest yields.


However, selecting a hybrid is based on more than just yield. Hybrids should be selected based on end use requirement, yielding ability (seed and oil), disease tolerance, head inclination, height and good agronomic type. The decision should not be hard as there is not a plethora of sunflower hybrids on the market; usually between 7 and 9 hybrids, as shown in the table below, are available most seasons.

So, in all cases, the first question I ask is which market are you growing for?


The end use requirement is a critical consideration, whether it is monounsaturated, polyunsaturated or confectionary/ birdseed narrows down the field to usually no more than 2 or 3 hybrids. Following this seed availability is usually the next consideration, as seed companies will not always have every hybrid available each season in all areas. This can be influenced by the predicted crop area as well as seed production and logistic challenges.


In all circumstances, select a high yielding hybrid that has the desired traits for your market and growing conditions. Where possible, it is also it is advisable to grow more than one hybrid to spread risk.


Sowing time also has an impact on hybrid selection as typically monounsaturated sunflowers are sown in spring and polyunsaturated sunflowers in summer (late plant) for northern NSW and southern Qld. There are also variations in hybrid maturity, which requires less consideration on a spring plant, but on a late summer plant can influence the speed of dry-down and time to harvest.


The growth rate of all hybrids is largely determined by temperature, photoperiod and moisture. Individual hybrids differ as to which traits they are most influenced by which explains the variations in growth stage timings.


In northern NSW, a medium–slow hybrid sown at Moree in early September and at Spring Ridge in mid October takes about 80–85 days to flower. The same hybrids sown in mid December to mid January take about 60 and 65 days, respectively.


The agronomic type of a hybrid should also be considered; taller plants can be more difficult to harvest and head inclination can influence sunburn as hybrids with pendulous heads tend to suffer less sunscald at flowering than erect hybrids. Recent evaluation of hybrids has also started to focus more on susceptibility to several diseases and viruses including Tobacco Streak Virus (TSV), phomopsis and sclerotinia.


Yield results are available in the NSW DPI Summer Crop Production Guide, available at These provide a useful set in independent data on hybrid performance over a range of seasons in northern NSW.


However it is always important to point out that often the hybrids genetic yield potential is not the limiting factor, it is our agronomic management and seasonal conditions which usually make the biggest difference between a fantastic result and a mediocre one.


Characteristics of sunflower hybrids

Hybrid Maturity End Use Height Head Inclination
HSR Seeds
Advantage Medium-slow (early plant)
Medium-quick (January plant)
Polyunsaturated Tall Semi-erect
Sunoleic 06 Medium (early plant)
Medium–quick (January plant)
Monounsaturated Medium Semi-pendulous
Galah Medium Confectionary/Birdseed Medium-tall Semi-erect
Ausigold 4 Medium–slow (early plant)
Medium (late plant)
Suitable for dehulling
Medium–tall Pendulous
Ausigold 61 Medium – quick Monounsaturated Medium –short Semi-erect
Ausigold 62 Medium Monounsaturated Medium Semi-erect
Pacific Seeds