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Sunflower : Variety Selection




  • Most major seed companies have several varieties of sunflower available.  Almost all commercial varieties of sunflowers are hybrids, so new seed should be purchased each year.  Companies have been actively developing new hybrids of sunflowers with better disease resistance and higher yields.  Special types with unique seed oil characteristics have been developed through conventional plant breeding (not biotech), including “NuSun” sunflowers, that are higher in oleic acid in their seed oil than are conventional oilseed sunflowers.  Reflecting market demands, many companies are releasing NuSun varieties, that are considered mid-level in their oleic acid content (there are also “high-oleic” varieties available that are desired for certain food and industrial uses).  Variety test comparisons in Missouri have shown a considerable difference in yield of available varieties, but similarity in height and maturity.  For the birdseed market, oil percentage does not matter, but selecting a variety with high oil content may be worthwhile for a vegetable oil market.  To get the latest information on variety performance in Missouri, and for a list of seed sources, refer to the Jefferson Institute publication on sunflower varieties (phone 573-449-3518).  

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