Sunflowers

THE POTENTIAL OF WILD SUNFLOWER SPECIES FOR INDUSTRIAL USES

(from:  HELIA, 30, Nr. 46, p.p. 175-198, (2007)

(Perenial sunflower and Jerusalem Artichoke)

In developing new Jerusalem artichoke genotypes suitable for stalk yield or
early integral crop (stalks and tubers at flowering time) harvesting, the objective is the maximization of inulin and total sugar yield in the stem (with the production of a large amount of biomass) and clones with early tuberization and tuber filling (Baldini et al., 2004). The yield of dry matter of aboveground biomass is very important at the time of first harvest, when it represents a temporary storage organ and the crop can be utilized as a stalk and multiyear crop (Caserta and Cervigni, 1991). The highest stalk yield was observed in clone 70 with 24.0 t/ha. The potential of clones to be used as an “integral crop” is indicated by the total biomass yield at the time of the first harvest (at flowering). Among the clones studied, clone 69 had the highest yield, 42.2 t/ha (Baldini et al., 2004).

The fructose content, expressed as percentage of fresh weight, showed higher
mean values in the tubers than in the stalks in all genotypes (Baldini et al., 2004).  Among clones, “Violette de Rennes” had the highest fructose concentration in the stalks of 166 g/kg, while clone 69 gave the highest in the tubers with 233 and 229 g/kg in the first and last harvest, respectively. With the exception of clone 17 at the first harvest, the glucose content, like that of fructose, was significantly higher in the tuber than in the stalks. The glucose content at the last harvest significantly increased with respect to the first harvest. The content of this sugar, if compared with fructose content, was very low, ranging between 9.2 g/kg in stalks to 37.3 g/kg in tubers at harvest.  Among clones, “Violette de Rennes” had the highest fructose concentration in the stalks of 166 g/kg, while clone 69 gave the highest in the tubers with 233 and 229 g/kg in the first and last harvest, respectively. With the exception of clone 17 at the first harvest, the glucose content, like that of fructose, was significantly higher in the tuber than in the stalks. The glucose content at the last harvest significantly increased with respect to the first harvest. The content of this sugar, if compared with fructose content, was very low, ranging between 9.2 g/kg in stalks to 37.3 g/kg in tubers at harvest.

Sunflowers are big and beautiful, and baseball players love to chew the seeds. Those seeds are rich in oil, which makes the sunflower a popular biofuel crop. Refineries process the oil into biodiesel, or use the plant waste as biomass, which can fuel factories and power plants. According to the National Sunflower Association, 1 acre (.4 hectares) of sunflowers can produce 600 pounds (272.1 kilograms) of oil

Oil Producing Crops
Plant Yield (seed) lbs/acre Biodiesel gal/acre
Corn 7800 18
Oats 3600 23
Cotton 1000 35
Soybean 2000 48
Mustard 1400 61
Camelina 1500 62
Crambe 1000 65
Safflower 1500 83
Rice 6600 88
Sunflower 1200 100
Peanut 2800 113
Rapeseed/Canola 2000 127