Sunflowers more versatile than you could possibly imagine.
Sunflowers are more versatile than you could possibly imagine.

We all know that sunflowers are considered to be a “happy flower”. A bright sunflower bouquet is the easiest way to chase the clouds away. Did you know, however, that the sunflower seed is much more versatile than you could ever imagine?

Sunflower seed is primarily used for the manufacturing of sunflower oil and oil-cake. In South Africa, sunflowers are well adapted for hot and dry climates. After the hull has been removed, the seed can be consumed as a snack or used to produce different oils.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries most of the sunflower seeds produced are marketed locally to expressers, animal feeds and for seed. Sunflower is the third largest grain crop produced in South Africa after maize and wheat. Over the past ten years production amounted to 700 000 tons on average, while the gross value is approximated at 1 million tons.

However, South Africa is not a significant role-player in the production and trade of oil-seeds in the international market since it contributes only 3% to the sunflower seed produced in the world. The gross value of sunflower seed produced in Mzansi has also been relatively volatile in the last decade.

The majority of sunflower seed is produced in six out of the nine provinces, excluding the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. North West and Free State produce approximately 85% of our sunflower seed. Sunflower seed can be planted from the beginning of November to the end of December, which is almost the same time for maize plantings.

OTHER COOL FACTS

  • Each sunflower is actually thousands of teeny flowers.
  • The iconic yellow petals and fuzzy brown centres are actually individual flowers themselves. As many as 2 000 can make up the classic sunflower bloom.
  • You should harvest sunflowers in the morning, not the afternoon. Planning to clip a few to display in a vase? If you wait until the afternoon, they may wilt.

Each sunflower can contain as many as 1 000 to 2 000 seeds. So there are tons for birdies to munch on! But you can harvest and roast them for yourself, too.

Staff Reporter
Researched and written by our team of writers and editors.