Sunflower Cultivation in India; A complete Information Guide

Sunflower Cultivation in India ; A complete Information Guide

Sunflower Cultivation in India; A complete  information Guide ;

Sunflower ( Helianthus Annus L.) belongs to the family Asteraceae is popularly known as ‘Surajmukhi’ ( Because It follows the sun by day is  ) it is also known as Suryaphula, Suryakanti, Poddutirugudu, Curiyakanti, Suryamukhi, etc
Sunflower is an important oilseed crop of the country. Its seeds contain about 48-53 % good quality vegetable oil, and a high amount of quality protein cake 
Sunflower is a short duration, photo-insensitive, wide adaptable, and drought tolerance oilseed crop
It can be grown at any time of the year od can serve as an ideal catch crop during the periods when land is otherwise left fallow.
The oil of sunflower is light yellow in color and possesses a good odor which can be used for a variety of cooking purposes like any other edible oil. The oil is also used for manufacturing hydrogenated oil
Sunflower seed oil can be expelled easily with the existing machinery in the country including the simplest process of ‘village Ghani’. 
Sunflower oil is a rich source (64%) of linoleic acid which helps in washing out cholesterol deposition in the coronary arteries of the heart and thus is good for heart patients. 
Oil is also used in the manufacture of soaps and cosmetics. The oil cake contains 40-44 percent high-quality protein. It is ideally suited for poultry and livestock rations. It can also be used for manufacturing baby foods. The sunflower kernels can be eaten raw or roasted.

Origin and History of the sunflower crop ;

Sunflower is a native of the southern United States and Mexico, from where it was introduced into Spain by early explorers and merchants before the middle of the sixteenth century. The sunflower was brought to England from Spain in the Colonial period. In the nineteenth century, the cultivation of sunflower as an oilseed crop began in the Soviet Union, and the majority of the present-day varieties are grown all over the world trace back their origin to the U.S.S.R. Sunflower as an oilseed crop was introduced into India in 1969.

Different type of Sunflowers plants ;

Sunflower Cultivation in India ; A complete Information Guide

There are about 264 species in the Helianthus genus. All the varieties grown in U.S.S.R. and India are grouped into three main groups.
(1) Large white seeded type: having high oil and content

(2) Small black seeded type: best for eating seeds. 
(3) Intermediate type with striped seeds: good for both eating and oil purposes 
Some of the workers have divided all the varieties into two distinct groups according to the habit of growth: 
Group I: having tall, unbranched single-headed types with well-developed achenes. 
Group II: having comparatively shorter, branched growth and with many heads.

Climatic Requirements for sunflower Cultivation ;

The crop requires a cool climate during germination and seedling growth. Seedlings tolerate frosts moderately well until they reach the four to the six-leaf stage of development. 

It requires warm weather from the seedling stage up to the flowering stage and warm and sunny days during flowering to maturity. 
High humidity accompanied by cloudy weather and rainfall at the time of flowering results in a poor seed set. The amount of linoleic acid decreases with high temperatures at maturity.

Sunflower is a photo-insensitive .crop, therefore, it can be grown successfully in any season viz., Kharif, Rabi, and spring throughout India.

It takes about 80-90 days in Kharif, 105-130 days in Rabi, and 100-110 days in the spring season.

 The Soil Requirement for the Cultivation of Sunflower

Sunflower can be grown on a wide range of soils and tolerates a moderate pH range and some salinity. 

It thrives best on deep loam soils with good drainage and irrigation facilities. 
The optimum range of soil pH for this crop is 6.5 to 8.5. It performs better than groundnut in heavy black cotton soils of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Recommended  Varieties of Sunflower in India ;


Releasing Centre

Yield potential (kg/ha)

Oil content (%)

Recommended states/regions situations

Salient features/ traits


DOR, Hyderabad



All India

High yield

Phule Raviraj

MPKV, Rahuri



Western Maharashtra

Tolerant to Necrosis, Alternaria, and Capitulum borer.





Tolerant necrosis



Releasing Centre

Yield potential (kg/ha)

Oil content (%)

Recommended states/regions situations

Salient features/ traits


UAS, Bangalore




Resistant to powdery mildew


PAU Ludhiana




High oil, early hybrid


PAU, Ludhian





DOR, Hyd


All India

Non lodging non shattering


RARS, Raichur




Tolerant to necrosis


TNAU, Coimbatore



Tamil Nadu

Moderate resistant to Alternaria leaf spot, rust & tolerant to thrips and leaf hopper

Olisun 3794 (PAC-3794)

Advant India ltd



Maharashtra, TN, Karnataka, AP

For both rainfed/irrigated & Kharif/rabi, Resistant to downey mildew

Source; Directorate of Oilseeds

Rotations and Mixed Cropping
Sunflower is grown in rotation with several crops. Some of the important crop rotations are as given below:
1. Maize-sunflower 

2. Paddy-sunflower 
3. Maize-potato-sunflower 
4. Arhar (ageti)-sunflower 
5. Sunflower-safflower 
6. Maize-Toria-sunflower 
7. Maize-Toria–sugarcane-ratoon-sunflower

How to prepare the field for Sunflower Cultivation;

Sunflower requires well pulverized and weed-free land with adequate moisture supply. The first ploughing should be done by the mould-board plough and subsequently, two to three ploughings could be done by local plough followed by planking.  Under irrigated conditions where sunflower is to be taken during Rabi, sowing should be done after irrigation. 

Sunflower seeds have thick hulls and imbibe water at a slow rate. It is, therefore, necessary to ensure sufficient moisture for proper germination at the time of sowing.

Sowing of  Sunflower Seed ;

Sunflower Seed Treatment;

Sunflower Cultivation in India ; A complete Information Guide
sunflower seeds
 seeds treatment should be done 24 hrs before the sowing with Carbendazim or Thiram at 2 g/kg of seed. Under rainfed condition soaked the seed in 2%ZnSo4 solution for 12 hrs and afterward dried the seed under the shady condition for 12 hrs before the sowing.

Sunflower Seed Rate  ;  

Seed Rate

Verities Kg /ha

Hybrids  Kg/ha

For Rain fed conditions



For Irrigated Conditions



Best time of Sunflower Seeds Sowing ;

Sunflower, unlike most other crops, is not affected by the season and day length. With the exception of freezing temperatures, the sowing of sunflower can be done in any month of the year. 
The optimum time of sowing of sunflower in the north for
 Kharif Sowing; First Fortnight of July 
 Rabi Sowing; Second fortnight of  October
 Zaid  Sowing; First fortnight of March
Please Note;
  1. If the Kharif crop of sunflower is sown in June, it suffers from lodging. as the heading stage coincides with the heavy rain period of early September 
  2. The Rabi crop sown late in December or January does not make proper germination and growth and heads of smaller size are produced. 
  3. Similarly, Zaid crop sown late in April suffers from heavy rains at harvest time which hampers proper harvesting and threshing of the produce.
Spacing, and Depth of Sowing; 

Sunflower should be sown 60 cms. apart in lines with a plant to plant spacing of 20 cms. The seed should be sown at 3-4 cms depth for a better stand. Sowing can be done by corn planter in the furrows.

After 10-12 days of germination, extra seedlings should be uprooted to provide a space of 20 cms. between plants in rows.

Manures and Fertilisers Requirement for Sunflower Crop;

Sunflower is an exhaustive crop and responds well to nitrogen phosphorus and potash. Therefore, it is necessary to add an adequate amount of manures and fertilizers in the field of sunflower. Nitrogen is essential for vegetative growth but to improve the seed size and its proper filling and to increase oil content liberal supply of phosphorus is essential. Potash also helps in grain filling and disease resistance. 

A dose of 60-80 kg nitrogen, 60 kg P,0, and 40 kg K2O per hectare have been found optimum for sunflower. 
The procedure of Fertilizer application in sunflower crop ;
Two-third quantity of nitrogen and the whole of phosphorus and potash should be applied as basal dose at the time of sowing. The remaining dose of nitrogen should be topdressed at the time of second irrigation (flowering stage).

Water Management in Sunflower Crop;

Sunflower is a crop of medium water requirement. 

  • Usually, no irrigation is needed for the Kharif crop. However, one irrigation should be given in case of uneven distribution of rainfall.
  • Pre-sowing irrigation is necessary for Rabi and Zaid crops to get uniform germination and better stand. 
  • Rabi crop may be irrigated thrice after 40, 75, and 110 days of sowing which will roughly coincide with four to five-leaf stage, flowering, and grain filling stages of the crop. 
  • Sunflower crop is highly sensitive to water stress between flowering and grain filling stages and at least one of the irrigation must be applied during this period.
  • The irrigation requirement of sunflower during the Zaid season is high. It requires four to eight irrigations at an interval of 10-15 days. Irrigation at the grain filling stage should be given light and on a claim and windless evening to avoid lodging.

Weed Control and Earthing in Sunflower Crop ;

Intercultural operations are essential to minimize the competition of sunflower plants with the weeds. Weed-free conditions up to 60 days after sowing results in better yield performance. 
When the plant attains a knee-high stage earthing should be done along the rows. This provides safeguards against lodging which is likely to occur at the heading stage If winds of the high-velocity blow. 
Use of  Fluchloralin at 2.0 l/ha before sowing and also use it as a pre-emergence spray on 5 days after sowing followed by irrigation or application of Pendimethalin can be as pre-emergence spray 3 days after sowing. The herbicides spray must be done with Back Pack/Knapsack/Rocker sprayer fitted with a flat fan nozzle using 900 l water/ha as spray fluid.

Diseases in Sunflower Crop;

There are a number of diseases that are responsible for the reduction in wild both quantitatively and qualitatively. Important diseases and their control measures are being given below:
Seed Rot of sunflower ;
After sowing, some of the seeds rot because of the presence of moulds on their surface. To protect the seed from rot and also to get a good stand in the field, seed should be treated with Captan or Dithane M-45 at the rate of 3 g per kg of seed.
Charcoal Rot of sunflower crop ;
This disease is caused by a fungus, Macrophomina phaseoli. This disease may occur to a considerable extent in the summer crops. The affected plants mature early and when dry show the black ashy color of the stem. Flower heads on the affected plants remain undersized.
Control Measures
(1) Use certified seed only. (2) All infected plants should be removed and burnt. (3) Follow 3-4 years of crop rotation.
Alternaria Blight;
This disease is caused by the fungus, Alternaria helianthi. This disease occurs in severe form during the rainy season. There are dark brown to black round spots on the leaves which later become concentric. There is usually a narrow chlorotic zone around the spots. Under favorable conditions. the spots coalesce and cause blight of leaves. The dead leaves dry up and droop on the stem.
Control Measures
(1) Use certified seeds. (2) Spray weekly 3 kg Dithane M-45 dissolved in 1000 liters of water spray should be given as the disease starts appearing on the lower leaves. A total of four sprays are required.
Sclerotium Wilt ;

This disease is caused by the fungus  Sclerotium rolfsii. Plants can be affected at any stage of growth. The sickly appearance of the plants can be seen from a long distance. A whitish growth of the fungus along with a mustard seed-like bodies can be seen over the affected plants near the soil surface.

Control Measures (1) Collect and burn the affected plants together with 15 cm of surrounding soil. (2) Follow crop rotation. (3) Keep the field free from weeds.
Sclerotinia wilt and Rot ;
This disease is caused by the fungus, Sclerotinia sclerotiorium. This disease mostly appears in the Rabi crops. The wilt symptoms of this are the same as those of Sclerotium wilt except that the sclerotia which are noticed on the affected portion are black, large, and irregular. Sometimes, instead of wilt, rotting of stem and head can be noticed. This can be recognized by shredding of the affected stem and head.
Control Measures
(1) Use certified seeds. (2) Collect and burn the affected plants. (3) Follow-up crop rotation preferably with cereals. (4) Keep the field free from weeds.

Insect Pests of Sunflower Crop;

There are a number of insect pests associated with this crop but only a few sporadic pests cause serious damage to it.
Seedling Pests;
Seedlings are cut at ground level by cutworms usually in patches throughout the field especially if sunflower is sown after potato or in a vegetable area.
Control Measures
Apply 6 liters of Aldrin 30 EC or 10 liters of Heptachlor 20 EC per hectare with irrigation water. Dust of these chemicals can be used in soil before sowing if the area is known for cutworm infestation.
Foliage – Feeding Pests
Various leaf-feeding caterpillars like tobacco caterpillar, Bihar bases caterpillar, Lucerne caterpillar, semi-looper, etc., damage the crop. damage is sporadic and at times very serious. Apart from these call pillars aphids and jassids suck the sap from the leaves and may cause “hopper-burn’.
Control Measures
For the control of various leaf-feeding insects, any one of the insecticides, viz., Folithion or Sumithion 625 milliliter per hectare or Endosulfan 35 EC 1250 milliliter per hectare or Nuvan 100 EC, 500 milliliters per hectare may be used in 1000 liters of water.
Aphids and jassids can be controlled by spraying Metasystox 25 EC or Rogor 30 EC at the rate of 1 liter per hectare or 250-milliliter Dimecron 100 EC in 1000 liters of water.
Ear Head Pests
Apart from the ear head insects like bugs, tobacco caterpillar and gram caterpillars damage the flowers and kernels. A small lyRacid Nysius sp. frequents the flowers and bites the workers around the neck. Parrots and birds eat away the kernels while testa is thrown to the ground.
Control Measures
The crop can be protected for a few days from parrots by dusting 5% malathion dust on both sides of the flower heads when the attack starts. Scaring away the birds is at present the only successful method to avoid losses.

How to control Bird pests Damage  Sunflower Crop;

Bird pest parakeets are the major source of sunflower crop damage As per an estimate it may cause damage up to 10% to 40% Whereas in some areas damage may be up to 90%. The damage started at the milky stage of the crop and continue till the harvesting stage of the crop. On average one parakeet eats up to 15 gms of seed per day So one can easily assume how much damage occurs because of the parakeet’s pests.
Control; 1) Large scale sunflower cultivation may reduce the damage 2) Spraying of neem kernel powder @ 10 gms per liter at the time of seed setting may repel the birds 3) Pre-recorded distress call by speakers are also helping to control the birds 4) Use of refractive ribbon (Scaring Tape) is also found effective to control the Bird pest of sunflower

Harvesting and Threshing of sunflower crop;

The sunflower crop is ready for harvest when moisture in the seed is 20 percent. Phenotypically the heads are ripe when the back of the head turns yellowish-brown. 

All heads may not be ready for harvesting at one time. Harvesting may, therefore, be done in two or three parts to avoid shattering. 
The harvested heads should be dried well in sun and then only threshed by beating the center of the head with a small stick. The commercial crop may be threshed with available threshers by reducing their speed. Further, sun-drying of the seed is desirable before storage or oil extraction. Moisture in seed should not exceed ten percent

The yield of sunflower Crop;

A good crop of sunflower raised properly and nursed appropriately should yield over 20 quintals per hectare.


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