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 2014
Cargill’s Narrabri Crush Plant Opens its Doors: Wednesday 13 August
Insights into oilseed crushing, quality considerations, national and international market trends and the supply chain will be discussed when the Cargill Narrabri Crush Plant opens its doors on Wednesday 13 August.

The Australian Sunflower Association and Australian Oilseeds Federation, supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) are hosting the morning so that growers and advisers can see the oilseed crush in action.

Plant Manager Michael Kilpatrick, Plant Manager will showcase the operating plant explaining the process and crush and refined products.  Nick Goddard, Executive Director, AOF, will provide an overview of the Australian oilseed supply chain.  National and international markets, and retail and end-consumer trends will be the subject of a presentation by Lachlan Herbert, Senior Crush & Oilseeds Trading Manager, Cargill, Melbourne.  There will be plenty of discussion around how impacts of on-farm practices including storage are related to the crush process and end-consumer. 

The Tour will start at 8.30am with registration and breakfast and conclude by 11.30am.  While the Tour is offered free of charge, those wishing to attend MUST REGISTER.  Note that numbers are limited and the ASA are unable to take visitors on tour who arrive without prior registration. Note that Cargill is unable to allow crush competitors to tour the facility, and reserves the right to refuse admittance.

Growers and advisers wishing to register can contact Better Sunflower Coordinator Liz Alexander on or 0429 471 511 by Friday 8 August.

Still time to register online for the Moree one day Better Sunflower Workshop 12 August 2014
A limited number of spots are still available for growers, agronomists and advisers who would like to attend the only Better Sunflower workshop being run in 2014 at Moree 12 August..

The Better Sunflower one-day certified agronomic workshops include a mix of theory, practical demonstrations and hands-on activities.  All participants attending the workshop receive The Big Yellow Sunflower Pack, a comprehensive folder containing the latest research on sunflower production in Australia. The courses are tailored to local conditions, and include topics covering marketing, agronomy, and management techniques for weeds, diseases, insects, harvest and safe storage.

Course cost is $135 per person including all course materials and meals, excludes accommodation.  Register online at

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

The Better Sunflowers workshop is presented by the Australian Sunflower Association and delivered as part of the Broadleaf Cropping Alliance, a Grains Research Development Corporation funded joint initiative between the Australian Oilseeds Federation and Pulse Australi

Record smashed at UQ Sunflower Weigh-In

ASA Committee members Sue Thompson (DAFF Qld)
and Chris Haire (NuSeed) joined students from 77 high schools on the day
It was a bloomin’ record-breaking year for the University of Queensland’s annual sunflower competition held in May.

First-time entrants Mueller College used a mix of manure and bananas to produce a sunflower that weighed in at a whopping 4.455kg – the heaviest sunflower in the competition’s 15-year history.
Mueller College, in the Moreton Bay region, broke the 2013 record of 3.82kg held by Toowoomba’s Downlands College

School students use scientific principles in an attempt to grow the heaviest sunflower in 12 weeks before the appointed weigh-in day at UQ’s Gatton campus.

Head of Mueller College Paul Valese said the students were surprised they had broken the record with their first entry.  He said their recipe for success included frozen bananas at the bottom of each pot plant.

Mr Valese also praised the school’s science staff, who used the competition as a practical way for students to apply their scientific knowledge.   “The bar has definitely been set very high and next year's entrants from the college will need to start researching how they can improve on these results,” he said. 
Students from Mueller College, Moreton Bay, winners of
the Heaviest Sunflower

UQ’s School of Agriculture and Food Sciences Plant Pathologist Associate Professor Vic Galea said he was impressed with the calibre of entries from the schools.

 “Many students adopted various methods including different potting mixes, soil, fertilizers and light regimes all experimenting to ensure they could grow the heaviest sunflower,” he said.
More than 2500 students from 77 schools took part in this year’s competition, challenging the future generation of agriculturalists to explore the scientific principles behind horticulture and agronomy.

The competition also includes a poster and reflective journal component, which is assessed by judges so schools that can’t attend the weigh-in day still have the chance to be involved. Winning entries in this category are submitted to the Queensland Science Contest.

The UQ Sunflower Competition is hosted by the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences and sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, The Australian Sunflower Association, AgriFood Skills Australia, Pacific Seeds, AgForce and supported by the Queensland Agriculture Teachers' Association.
Contact Karli Kollegger, Univeristy of Queensland, phone 07  5460 1279, or

Changes to Sunflower Receival Standards

The coming season (2014/15) will see a number of changes to the receival standards for poly, mono and birdseed sunflowers.

The oilseed trading standards are administered by the Australian Oilseeds Federation (AOF). The Standards are reviewed annually after each harvest, through a consultation process with AOF members, and the final, industry-agreed Standards are published on August 1 each year for the coming harvest.

In 2014 the AOF has undertaken an extensive review of all oilseed trading standards to ensure improved clarity and understanding of the terms used, while also aligning the terminology and quality criteria with cereals where applicable (e.g. description of weed seeds).

The ASA has been working with the AOF to ensure the revised Sunflower Standards are achievable by growers, while still able to meet the high quality benchmark set by the buyers. While there are many minor and editorial changes proposed the more significant changes are:

Poly/Mono Sunflowers
  • Removed the Degraded category:
    1. Added a tolerance of 1 seed per 1,000 seeds for Heat Damaged/Bin Burnt.
    2. Added a tolerance of 1 seed per half litre for Mouldy.
  • Clarified that Impurities:
    1. Includes all foreign material (non-sunflower seed material).
    2. Includes all sunflower seed material and other foreign material falling through the 2.0mm round hole screen.
    3. Is to be assessed on the basis of an 80 gram sample.
  • Included a tolerance of 0.06% by weight for Sand/Soil.

  • Altered the definition of “Admixture” to “Impurities”. Definitions now refers to:
    1. All non-sunflower seed material, where seed material is all whole and defective sunflower seeds.
    2. Removed the reference to various screens when assessing Admixture.
  • Revised the definition and tolerance of Insects:
    1. Included a tolerance of 5 Large Insects, dead and/or alive.
    2. Included a tolerance of 5 Small Insects, dead and/or alive.
    3. Under Objectionable Material, clarified there is a nil tolerance for live Stored Grain Insects and live Pea Weevil.
  • Deleted the reference to Ryegrass Ergot as it is not present in Birdseed Sunflowers.
To view both the explanory guide to the proposed changes and the proposed standards, click here.

Parthenium plants found near NSW
NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Biosecurity border inspectors recently identified around 60 parthenium plants at a wash-down facility north of Mungindi on the Queensland side of the border.

Parthenium is a Weed of National Significance (WoNS) and any spread is of significant concern, but even more importantly for sunflower growers, the weed is a major host plant for Tobacco Streak Virus (TSV). Parthenium is the main source of TSV-infected pollen (spread by thrips) which has previously caused serious disease outbreaks in Central Queensland sunflowers.

DAFF-Qld virologist Murray Sharman confirms that TSV has not been found on sunflowers outside Central Queensland, but says the presence of parthenium in other regions is a concern.

TSV is seed transmitted in parthenium at high rates and may remain viable for several years ungerminated in the soil.  Parthenium can be spread by vehicle and machinery movement.  It is a fast growing annual plant with prolific seed production. Once established the weed quickly builds a seed bank in the soil that makes eradication difficult.

There is a significant risk of long distance dispersal if TSV-infected parthenium seed is moved with machinery or harvested goods and this appears to be the most likely way that TSV and parthenium may turn up in new regions outside of Central Qld.

The plants found at the wash-down station have been destroyed and NSW weeds inspectors have been actively searching for new weed infestations, including parthenium following the recent rainfall.

This discovery of parthenium at the Mungindi wash-down station highlights the importance of using these facilities to wash down machinery being moved between regions to minimise the risk of spreading weeds and diseases.

If anyone suspects parthenium weed infestation, they should contact their local weeds officer:

Parthenium images courtesy of NSW DPI & DAFF Qld
Contact Murray Sharman, Senior Plant Pathologist, QDAFF, 07 3255 4339 or

Congratulations to NSW Rosebowl and RASQ Sunflower winners

The Australian Sunflower Association congratulates the following growers for their successful entries in the 2014 Royal Australian Show Queensland crop competition.  The results indicate that the Allora/Clifton/Felton region was producing some impressive crops.  

RASQ Dryland Sunflower
Grower      Variety      Yield       Points
Piper Family Trust, Felton NuSeed AusiGold 62 1239 kg oil/ha 129.2
G & E & G & M Hoe, Allora NuSeed AusiGold 62  1153 kg oil/ha 120.3
MJ & SJ Sinton, Allora NuSeed AusiGold 62 1041kg oil/ha 108.5

RASQ Irrigated Sunflower
 1st      MJ & SJ Sinton, Allora  NuSeed AusiGold 62  1136kg oil/ha  125.2

Rosebowl judge (and ASA Committee member) Jim Hunt said that average yield was down throughout the NSW region for the previous season.  

“The winners had eight inches of rain in a big storm that went through lower Liverpool Plains so moisture dictated yield and success.   The late sunnies were sown on Goran Lake as it dried back, but intense heat combined with subsoil constraints impacted on final yield” he said.

“Overall insect pressure and disease incidence was minor compared to other years so it panned out to be a low cost but profitable year with the elevated price towards the end of harvest.”

2014 Rosebowl Trophy Results
Place      Grower      Variety      Estimated Yield  Points 
 1st      Windy Station, Quirindi  NuSeed AusiGold 62 (Early)  2.2 t/ha 126
 2nd      R. Cropper, Willow Tree  NuSeed AusiGold 62 (Early)  2.2 t/ha  124
 3rd      D. Hubbard, Spring Ridge  NuSeed AusiGold 62 (Late)  1.8 t/ha  123

Feature Article: Great new information tools now available for growers and advisors
Organisations such as GRDC, ASA and DAFF Qld have released a number of fantastic new tools to support growers and advisors to achieve reliable and profitable Sunflower production in 2014. Here we showcase five which have been newly released or recently updated:
  • GRDC Sunflower GrowNotes
  • GRDC Harvest Videos
  • ASA Marketing Guide for Sunflowers July 2014
  • IPM guidelines for grains DAFF Qld website
  • The ASA Better Sunflower website

GRDC Sunflower GrowNotes
Sunflower production in the northern grain belt has been boosted by the launch of a new online tool: GRDC GrowNotes for sunflower

Presented as an online flip-book, GrowNotes provides an overview of the crop and a range of farm practice reference notes, supported with trial results and best-practice recommendations.  Sunflower GrowNotes also includes links to additional research and trial information for further study.

GRDC Northern Panel chairman James Clark