Sunflower configuration × population × hybrid – Gurley 2015–16


Research organisaton
Funding sources

Trial details

Researcher(s) Loretta Serafin, Mark Hellyer and Peter Perfrement, NSW DPI
Year(s) 2015
Contributor Department of Primary Industries NSW
Trial location(s) Site 3, Gurley, NSW
Further information View external link
Related trials
Sunflower configuration × population × hybrid – Gurley 2015–16 locations

Optimising sunflower performance relies on being able to match a hybrid with the growing environment and ensuring that the most suitable agronomic management is provided. Suitable crop agronomy involves using the most appropriate row configuration and plant population as well as ensuring adequate nutrition, disease and insect management. This experiment and others conducted in this series were designed to provide recommendations for growers and advisors to support decisions on optimal row configuration, plant population and hybrids for sunflower production in the north-western and Liverpool Plains regions of NSW. These two environments are the primary sunflower growing regions in northern NSW.

Key messages
  • Sunflower yields were very low at this site in 2015–16, averaging 0.56 t/ha.
  • Plant population affected plant measurements, with larger head diameters and 1000 grain weights resulting from lower populations.
  • Hybrid selection also affected plant measurements. Ausistripe 14 had the longest arc length but the smallest head diameter. Ausigold 4 and Ausigold 62 had very similar plant characteristics.
Lead research organisation Department of Primary Industries NSW
Host research organisation N/A
Trial funding source GRDC DAN00197
Trial funding source DPI NSW DAN00197
Related program Tactical agronomy for selected crops in the northern region (safflower, linseed, sunflower)

This experiment was part of the project Tactical agronomy for selected crops in the northern region (safflower, linseed, sunflower) (DAN00197), with joint investment by NSW DPI and GRDC. Technical assistance provided by Delphi Ramsden, Angus Hombsch, Alice Bowler and Bronwyn Brennan (NSW DPI) is gratefully acknowledged. Thanks to Doug Clark, ‘Kyntyre’, Gurley for hosting the experiment.

Other trial partners Doug Clark, ‘Kyntyre’, Gurley
Download the trial report to view additional trial information


Crop type Oilseed: Sunflower
Treatment type(s)
  • Crop: Type
  • Sowing
  • Sowing: Rate
  • Sowing: Row spacing
  • Variety
  • Variety: Type
Trial type Experimental
Trial design Replicated
Sow rate or Target density 15,000 plants/ha 25,000 plants/ha or 35,000 plants/ha
Sowing machinery Not specified
Sow date 9 September 2015
Harvest date 23 February 2016
Plot size Not specified
Plot replication Not specified
Plot blocking Not specified
Plot randomisation Not specified
Paddock history Not specified

42 kg/ha Granulock Z applied at sowing

Herbicide Not specified
Insecticide Not specified
Fungicide Not specified
Pesticide Not specified
Soil amelioration Not specified
Seed treatment Not specified
Inoculant Not specified
Tillage Not specified
Other trial notes

Starting soil water and rainfall

The site was soil cored before sowing and found to have 103 mm of plant available water (PAW) to a depth of 1.2 m. A total of 284.5 mm of in- crop rainfall was recorded at the site (Table 2). This was largely received as one large fall of over 50 mm in mid-November and another large fall of 68.5 mm in early January. The intensity of these summer storm events meant the rainfall was not effective, as a large amount of rain was lost as runoff.

Plant height:

Five plants in each plot were measured for height, taken from ground level up to the point of attachment at the back of the head. There was no difference in plant height between the hybrids, plant populations or row configurations. The average plant height in the experiment was 152 cm.

Head diameter and arc length:

The head diameter and arc length of five plants in each plot was measured. Head diameter was measured across the back of the head and arc length across the front face of the head. Plant population and hybrid selection both caused significant differences in both parameters. Head diameters averaged 11.8 cm, indicating that yields were likely to be reasonably low. Head diameters decreased as the plant populations increased, with significant differences between each plant population. There were also differences between the hybrids. Ausigold 62 and Ausigold 4 were not different from each other with head diameters of 13.0 cm and 12.3 cm respectively, but both were larger than Ausistripe 14 at 10.2 cm. Head arc lengths decreased as plant populations increased. In contrast to the head diameters, Ausistripe 14 had the longest arc length at 19.7 cm, followed by Ausigold 4 at 18.3 cm and Ausigold 62 at 17.5 cm. As Ausistripe 14 is a confectionary hybrid, the seeds are typically longer, resulting in a more rounded head shape. 

Grain yield:

Sunflower yields were very low at this site in 2015–16 with an average of 0.56 t/ha. The coefficient of variation for grain yield was very high and, as such, no other grain yield results can be reported as the level of variability in the data was too high.

Grain quality:

Sub samples from each plot were collected at harvest and analysed for 1000 grain weight and test weight. Plant population and hybrid selection caused significant differences in 1000 grain weight. The 1000 grain weight decreased as plant population increased. Ausistripe 14 had the highest 1000 grain weight and test weight, although its test weight was not significantly different from Ausigold 62 . Oil contents were not available at the time of writing.

Download the trial report to view additional method/treatment information

Trial results Target versus actual plant populations established

# Plant establishment (plants/ha) Target plant population (plants/ha)
1 20680 15000
2 28120 25000
3 44260 35000

Plant establishment plants/ha


Target plant population plants/ha


Trial results Hybrid performance at 'Kyntyre'

# Variety
1000 grain weight (g) Test weight (kg/hL)
1 Ausigold 4 41 35.8
2 Ausigold 62 38.1 38.3
3 Ausistripe 14 44.4 39.7
LSD (P=0.05%) 1.26 (P=0.05%) 3.09

1000 grain weight g


Test weight kg/hL

Observed trial site soil information
Trial site soil testing
Site Depth Type pH EC P K N A OC CAT
Site 3, Gurley, NSW 0 - 10cm Vertisol 6.10 16.00 6.00 0.49
Site 3, Gurley, NSW 10 - 30cm 7.00 4.00 8.00 0.43
Site 3, Gurley, NSW 30 - 60cm 7.80 2.00 11.00 0.34
Site 3, Gurley, NSW 60 - 90cm 7.90 0.00 11.00 0.28
Site 3, Gurley, NSW 90 - 120cm 8.00 3.00 2.00 0.12
Soil conditions
Trial site Soil texture
Site 3, Gurley, NSW Vertisol
Derived trial site soil information
Australian Soil Classification Source
Trial site Soil order
Site 3, Gurley, NSW Vertosol
National soil grid Source
NOTE: National Soil Grid data is aggregated information for background information on the wider area
Actual soil values can vary significantly in a small area and the trial soil tests are the most relevant data where available

Soil properties



Site 3, Gurley NSW 2015

Observed climate information
Rainfall avg ann (mm) 603mm
Rainfall avg gsr (mm) 383.4mm
Rainfall trial gsr (mm) 284.5mm
Derived climate information
NOTE: Exact trial site locality unknown - Climate data may not be accurate
BOM Data source MOREE AERO [11076] 21km proximity to trial site location


Some data on this site is sourced from the Bureau of Meteorology

SILO weather estimates sourced from
Jeffrey, S.J., Carter, J.O., Moodie, K.B. and Beswick, A.R. (2001). Using spatial interpolation to construct a comprehensive archive of Australian climate data , Environmental Modelling and Software, Vol 16/4, pp 309-330. DOI: 10.1016/S1364-8152(01)00008-1.

Trial report and links

2015 trial report

2015 trial report