Sunflower / Helianthus annuus belongs to the Asteraceae family. Sunflower is an important oil seed crop and grown across the world. It is also called Soorajmukhi, Suryaphula, Suryakanti, Poddutirugudu, Curiyakanti, Suryamukhi, etc.
Sunflower is produced in the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Orissa and Tamil Nadu. Karnataka is a leading producer of sunflower with a production of 3.04 lakhs tons from an area of 7.94 lakh hectares. Sunflower production requires 80% of the area under production to be rainfed. In terms of productivity, Bihar leads with 1402 kg/ha followed by Tamil Nadu with 1328.7 kg, although both the states have less than 25000 hectares under the crop which is mostly irrigated.
Sunflower seeds contain 46 – 52 % edible oil. Sunflower oil is healthy and natural and popular for its light and odorless nature. It is rich in vitamin E. Sunflower is propagated through seeds. February to March is the best time to grow sunflowers. Sunflower is grown in temperate regions. Sunflower is a major source of vegetable oil in India and the world. India is a leading producer of this oil-seed crop. The sunflower oil that is manufactured from sunflower seeds is widely used in India for cooking purposes. The crop requires a cool climate to cultivate well and can tolerate frost during germination stage. During flowering stage, it requires warm climate.
Sunflower is a beautiful flower and adds beauty to any home or backyard garden. Sunflowers are drought tolerant and can grow easily in a wide variety of soils. Some varieties of sunflower grown in India are Morden, Jwalamukhi, KBSH-1, Sungene-85, PAC-36, PSFH-67, PAC-1091, MLSFH-47, GAUSUF-15, Morden TNAUSUF-7, MSFH-8, MSFH-17, TCSH-1, BSH-1, DSH-1, APSH-11, KBSH-41, KBSH-42, CO-1, CO-2, LSH-1, LSH-3, PKVSH-27, Surya, SS-56, LS-11, etc. Sunflower seeds promote cardiovascular health as they contain folate and vitamin E. Sunflower seeds contain high amounts of Phytosterols that promote healthy cholesterol levels. They are a potent source of Magnesium and support healthy moods. Sunflower seeds contain Selenium, a powerful antioxidant that is great for thyroid problems. Sunflower seeds are a great snack and can be roasted and eaten.
Sunflower is an annual, erect, broadleaf plant with a strong taproot and prolific lateral spread of surface roots. Stems are usually round early in the season, angular and woody later in the season, and normally un-branched. Sunflower leaves are phototropic and will follow the sun’s rays. This property has been shown to increase light interception and photosynthesis. In temperate regions, sunflower requires approximately 11 days from planting to emergence, 33 days from emergence to head visibility, 27 days from head visibility to the first anther, 8 days from first to the last anther, and 30 days from the last anther to maturity.
Sunflower farming in India
Image source – srinidhifarm.com
Image source – pramoda.co.in
Image source – indiamart.com
February to March is the best time to cultivate sunflower. Sunflower is a photosensitive crop and is therefore grown in Kharif, Rabi and spring seasons. It takes 80 – 90 days in Kharif season, 105 – 130 days in Rabi season and 100 – 110 days in the spring season to grow. In the Kharif crop, it is grown in June, in Rabi it is grown in December and
The crop requires a cool climate during germination and warm climate during flowering stages. The seedlings tolerate frost and drought. It can tolerate temperatures from 14 – 30°C at the most.
It requires an annual rainfall of 500 – 1000 mm.
Use bold and certified seeds only. Sunflower is sown by a dibbling method which requires 5 – 6 kg/ha seeds. Furrow sowing needs 8 – 10 kg/ha seeds. The excess seedlings are thinned 10 – 15 days after seedling emergence. The optimum population varies from 40 – 74,000 plants/ha depending on variety and availability of moisture. Under dryland conditions, 40 – 50,000 plants/ha, while under irrigated conditions, 50-60,000 plants/ha is the optimum plant density. A plant density of 55,556 plants/ha (60 cm x 30 cm) in tall cultivars and 74,000 plants/ha (45 cm x 30 cm) in dwarf cultivars/hybrids has been found to be optimum.
Seeds should be treated with captan or ceresan @ 3 g/kg seed under dryland conditions. In downy mildew prone areas, seed treatment with apron 35 SD @ 6 g/kg seed is necessary. Soaking seeds in 2% ZnSO4 for 12 hrs and shade drying is recommended for rainfed sowing. Treat the seed with Trichoderma @4g/kg. This can be done just before sowing. It is compatible with bio-fertilizers. Such seeds should not be treated with fungicides. Treat the seeds with Carbendazim or Thiram at 2 g/kg of seed. Treat the seeds 24 hours prior to sowing. Use Azospirillum 600 g/ha and 600 g/ ha of Phosphobacteria or Azophos 1200 g/ha for treating seeds using rice kanji as a binder. Dry the treated seeds in the shade for 15 minutes and sow immediately. Moist hydration for 24 hours in moist gunny bags followed by drying and seed dressing with Thiram @ 2g/kg to enhance field emergence. Seeds dried to 8 – 9% moisture content, treated with Thiram @ 2g/kg and packed in polylined (300 gauge) cloth bag can store up to 9 months with 70% germination.
Sunflower should be sown 60 cm apart in lines with a plant to plant spacing of 20 cm. The seeds should be sown 3 – 4 cm deep by corn planters in furrows. After 10 – 12 days of germination, extra seedlings should be uprooted to provide a space of 20 cm between plants in rows.
Sunflower can be grown on a wide range of soils. But it thrives best on deep loam soils with good drainage and irrigation facilities. The optimum pH range is 6.5 – 8.5. Test the soil before use. Keep the land weed-free before cultivating.
The field should be free of weeds, hardpans, stones, and water-logged conditions. Ridges, field waterways, terraces or contours and water harvesting basins should be constructed. Avoid fields that were planted to sunflower the previous year. Sunflower requires a well-pulverized weed-free land with adequate moisture supply. The first plow is done by the moldboard plow method and the next two or three are done by the local plow. This should be followed by planking operation. Sufficient moisture is essential at the time of sowing.
Sunflower is an exhaustive crop and responds well to the application of manures and fertilizers. Application of 10 – 12 tons of FYM or compost/ha is necessary especially in drylands and poorly fertile soils. Mix 2000 g/ha of Azospirillum and 2000 g/ ha of Phosphobacteria with 25 kg FYM and 25 kg soil and apply before sowing. Apply sulfur @ 20 kg/ha through ammonium sulfate or single super phosphate Or apply gypsum@ 200kg/ha as basal. Spray borax @ 0.2 % (2g/l of water) to capitulum at the ray floret opening stage to improve seed set and seed filling.
The nutrient requirement is as below – as per agritech.tnau.ac.in
Season Blanket recommendation of Nutrients (kg/ha)
N P2O5 K2O
Hybrids Irrigated 60 90 60
Rainfed 40 50 40
Varieties Irrigated 60 30 30
Rainfed 40 50 40
Sunflower can be grown as follows –
Paddy – sunflower
Maize – potato – sunflower
Arhar – sunflower
Sunflower – safflower
Maize – Toria – sunflower
Maize – Toria – sugarcane – ratoon – sunflower
Irrigate immediately after sowing followed by irrigation on 4th – 5th day and later at intervals of 7 – 8 days according to soil and climatic conditions, seeding, flowering and seed development stage. Usually, no irrigation is needed for Kharif crop. Rabi crop may be irrigated thrice after 40, 75 and 110 days of sowing. Sunflower crop is highly sensitive to water stress between flowering and grain filling stages. Therefore, irrigation may be provided in case of moisture deficiency during this stage. Irrigation requirement of the crop during summer is relatively higher. Irrigation at grain-filling stage should be light and given on calm and windless evening to avoid lodging. Among the various stages, bud initiation, flowering period and seed development stages are critical stages in terms of irrigation.
Apply Fluchloralin at 2.0 l/ha before sowing and incorporate or apply as a pre-emergence spray on the 5th day after sowing followed by irrigation or apply Pendimethalin as pre-emergence spray 3 days after sowing. The spray of these herbicides has to be accomplished with Back Pack/Knapsack/Rocker sprayer fitted with flat fan nozzle using 900 l water/ha as spray fluid.
All the herbicide application is to be followed by one late hand weeding a month after sowing.
Hoe and hand weed on the 15th and 30th day of sowing and remove the weeds. Allow the weeds to dry for 2 – 3 days in the case of irrigated and then give irrigation.
Birds cause a lot of damage in case of sunflower farming and this can be tackled by tying bright reflector ribbons above the crop to discourage them
Intercultural operations are essential to minimize weeds
When the plant grows knee-high, earthing is done to protect against lodging
Use of Sirmate 4 kg/ha at pre-emergence or Basalin at 1 kg/ha is found effective
Head borer can be controlled by growing intercrops like green gram, black gram, groundnut and soybean. Using pheromone traps also helps
Leafhopper can be treated with Imidacloprid 70 WS at 7 g/kg
Parakeets can be managed by installing scarecrows in the field
Rhizopus head rot can be managed by spraying Mancozeb @ 2g/liter
Sunflower necrosis can be treated with Imidacloprid 2 g / kg of seed
Alternaria blight can be treated with Mancozeb 0.3% 4 times in an interval of 10 days
Rust can be treated with Mancozeb spray 1000 g/ha
Charcoal rot can be treated with spot drenching with Carbendazim @ 1g/liter
Downy mildew can be treated by spraying Metalaxyl @ 3 g/kg of seed
For further issues, please contact your local horticulturist
Harvesting begins as soon as 80 % of the sunflower heads are brown in order to minimize losses caused by birds, lodging and shattering. The leaves turn yellowish during harvesting maturity. The sunflower plant is physiologically mature when the back of the head has turned from green to yellow and the bracts are turning brown, about 30 to 45 days after bloom, and seed moisture is about 35 %. The total growing period (from seeding to harvesting) for sunflower ranges from 125 to 130 days. All heads may not be ready for harvesting at the same time. Therefore harvesting can be done in two or three installments. The harvested heads are sun-dried and so are the seeds. Harvesting is done manually or mechanically. After harvesting, the seeds are sorted, graded, packed and stored.
A good crop yields about 20 quintals/ha.
Benefits of sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds contain 46 – 52 % edible oil.
Sunflower seeds contain high amounts of Phytosterols that promote healthy cholesterol levels.
They are a potent source of Magnesium and support healthy moods.
Sunflower seeds contain Selenium, a powerful antioxidant that is great for thyroid problems.
Sunflower seeds are a great snack and can be roasted and eaten.
Raw sunflower seeds contain high dietary fiber and aid digestion and cure constipation
It prevents cancer and improves bone health
It contains anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants that are required for optimum health
Benefits of sunflower oil
Sunflower oil is healthy and natural and popular for its light and odorless nature. It is rich in vitamin E.
The health benefits of sunflower oil include its ability to improve heart health, boost energy, strengthen the immune system, improve skin health, prevent cancer, lower cholesterol, protect against asthma and reduce inflammation.
Sunflower oil is popular because of its impressive fatty acid content, which includes palmitic acid, stearic acid, oleic acid, and linoleic acid.
The combination of fatty acids in the body is extremely important to maintain various elements of human health, and sunflower oil can help maintain that balance.
It also has more polyunsaturated fats than any other commonly used vegetable oil.
It prevents arthritis, asthma and colon cancer
It prevents infection in infants
It improves skin health and prevents acne
It is rich in beta-carotene and prevents aging. It also treats dry skin
It is helpful in preventing frizzy hair and thinning of hair
Nutritional benefits of sunflower per 100 gm dried seeds
As per Wikipedia
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 51 g 78%
Saturated fat 4.5 g 22%
Polyunsaturated fat 23 g
Monounsaturated fat 19 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 9 mg 0%
Potassium 645 mg 18%
Total Carbohydrate 20 g 6%
Dietary fiber 9 g 36%
Sugar 2.6 g
Protein 21 g 42%
Vitamin A 1% Vitamin C 2%
Calcium 7% Iron 29%
Vitamin D 0% Vitamin B-6 65%
Vitamin B-12 0% Magnesium 81%