Helianthus annuus Short plant with medium maturity has improved root and stalk strength to resist lodging. Well adapted to northern climates, produces good yields with high oil content. Plant 1–1½" deep after soils have warmed to 50°. Young sunflowers require cultivation to establish well, but tall stalks and broad leaves make grown plants very competitive with most weeds.
As food grain: Produces a good-quality amber-colored vegetable oil with a distinctive nutty flavor and high levels of polyunsaturated fats and vitamin E. Suitable for baking, in salads, and for low-temperature frying.
As feed grain: Sunflower seeds’ high oil content makes them a valuable source of energy; fairly high levels of protein as well, generally hovering around 20%. A valuable source of the limiting amino acid methionine in organic poultry diets, though it must first be milled to crack the hull. Fed to ruminants, sunflower seeds can reduce methane emissions and improve rumen bacterial activity. Less valuable as hog feed due to high levels of fiber and unsaturated oils.