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You Are Here Sunflower Magazine > Selecting a Sunflower Hybrid

Sunflower Magazine

Selecting a Sunflower Hybrid
January 2005

Identify your most likely market first. Is it confection, oil, de-hull or bird food? If your growing for oil, is it linoleic (regulars or traditional sunflower) mid-oleic or NuSun„§, or high-oleic? Each market option prizes a different set of hybrid traits. Some of those traits to keep in mind:

Confection: Seed size and appearance, maturity, agronomic traits, yield, and test weight are important considerations.

Oil: Percent oil content, yield, maturity, agronomics. With high prices, oil content and potential premiums are a major factor to consider.

Dehull: Acceptability and versatility in the market place, agronomics.

Bird food: Availability of a market, yield, agronomics.

Also, keep certain production challenges in mind. Do have problems with particular weeds, such as marshelder? Then be sure to consider a Clearfield㤠hybrid. Problems with downy mildew? Check out new hybrids with improved downy mildew resistance. More growers in the High Plains are finding agronomic advantages with a short-stature hybrid, be sure to examine those options. Stalk strength and head position can be important considerations where certain pests such as stem weevils and blackbirds may pose a problem.

¡§When a grower comes up to you and asks, ¡¥what¡¦s the best sunflower hybrid you¡¦ve got?¡¦ it¡¦s getting to be where you need to ask three or four questions first before you can give them an answer,¡¨ says one veteran seed company rep. ¡§Each grower¡¦s individual situation needs to be considered before you start talking hybrids. Now, we (seed company reps) need to know so much more about the hybrids available ¡V and so do the growers.¡¨

For a list of seed suppliers and seed company web sites, go to Click on the link ¡§Growers¡¨ then ¡§Seed Suppliers/Buyers,¡¨ and then ¡§Hybrid Seed Suppliers.¡¨

2004 Sunflower Hybrid Performance Results

More test locations and more complete results of sunflower yield trials conducted in 2004 in cooperation with USDA, university researchers, and private seed companies in the Plains are available on the NSA website Click on the ¡§Growers¡¨ link, then ¡§yield trials.¡¨ Yield trial results are available for previous years as well, so you can trace hybrid performance over various growing seasons. The trials are presented as PDF files, read by Adobe Reader, which can be downloaded for free at

Following are other sources of public sunflower hybrid performance information available online.

North Dakota State University Research and Research Extension Centers

South Dakota State University Crop Variety Trial Information

Colorado State University Sunflower Page

Kansas State University Research & Extension Crops and Soils Library

University of Nebraska sunflower testing results

Making Sense of Hybrid Statistics

Expected mean in plot trial information refers to the average performance number for a particular trait of all hybrids evaluated in the trial.

The coefficient of variability (C.V. %) often listed at the bottom of a table, is a relative measure of the amount of variation or consistency recorded for a particular trait, expressed as a percentage of the mean. Generally, trials with low C.V. rates are more reliable for making hybrid choices than trials with higher C.V. rates. Trials with C.V. rates below 15-20% are generally considered to be reliable for comparing yield.

To accurately determine if one hybrid is better than another for a given trait, use the least significant difference value (LSD 5%) at the bottom of the table. This is a statistical way to indicate if a trait such as yield differs when comparing two hybrids. If two hybrids differ by more than the indicated LSD 5% value for a given trait, they would most likely differ again when grown under similar conditions. If two hybrids differ by less than the LSD for a particular trait, than there¡¦s no statistical difference.

For example, if a performance trial table indicates one hybrid yielded 2,600 lbs/acre, compared to another hybrid in the same plot that yielded 2,310 lbs/acre, and the LSD for this particular plot trial data is 407 lbs/acre, there is no statistical difference in yield between the two varieties.

In another example, if the oil content percentage for one hybrid is 44 compared to 41 for another, and the LSD is 2.3, the first hybrid can be expected to have a higher oil content than the second hybrid, under similar growing conditions.

Give more weight to information from trials or fields close to your particular growing area. It¡¦s best to compare relative performance over many years and locations. Consult with an agronomist or your local seed dealer for more specific hybrid information.

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