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Information @ a Glance

Growth
  • Sunflower is an annual, erect, broadleaf plant with a strong taproot and prolific lateral spread of surface roots. Stems are usually round early in the season, angular and woody later in the season, and normally unbranched. Sunflower leaves are phototropic and will follow the sun's rays with a lag of 120 behind the sun's azimuth. This property has been shown to increase light interception and possibly photosynthesis.
  • The sunflower head is not a single flower but is made up of 1,000 to 2,000 individual flowers joined at a common receptacle. The flowers around the circumference are ligulate ray flowers without stamens or pistils; the remaining flowers are perfect flowers (with stamens and pistils). Anthesis (pollen shedding) begins at the periphery and proceeds to the center of the head. Since many sunflower varieties have a degree of self-incompatibility, pollen movement between plants by insects is important, and bee colonies have generally increased yields.

Extraction: 

  • Universal oilseed equipment may be used for the 3 main methods:
    Mechanical: In the screw press or expeller method the seeds are crushed or rolled and heated. The heating helps to break up the oil bearing tissues and to inactivate phospholipases and lipases and thus reducing the level of non-hydratable phosphatides and the acid value. The oil is then filtered. This process reduces the cake oil content to about 15%.
    Prepress solvent: This is the most common method. Following mechanical extraction the cake prepressed then granulated or flaked at an increased temperature and enters a solvent extractor with the cake passing in the opposite direction to the recoverable solvent (usually hexane due to its lower cost and toxicity). The cake oil content is reduced to 1-3%.
    Direct solvent: Kernels are conditioned, flaked and the oil solvent extracted directly giving a cake with 2-4%
    oil.

Applications

  • High oleic sunflower oil has higher oxidated stability than conventional oil. It has expanded the application of sunflower oils for frying purposes, tends to enhance shelf life of snacks, and could be used as an ingredient of infant formulas requiring stability.
  • The price of sunflower oil usually prohibits its widespread use in industry, but there are several applications that have been explored. It has been used in certain paints, varnishes and plastics because of good semidrying properties without color modification associated with oils high in linolenic acid. In Eastern Europe and the USSR where sunflower oil is plentiful, sunflower oil is used commonly in the manufacture of soaps and detergents. The use of sunflower oil (and other vegetable oils) as a pesticide carrier, and in the production of agrichemicals, surfactants, adhesives, plastics, fabric softeners, lubricants and coatings has been explored.

Market and Report

  • High-oleic sunflowers are special oil hybrids that have an oleic acid content of 80 percent or greater. Oleic acid is a fatty acid that contains the highest level of monounsaturates among commercially available alternatives. Market niches have developed for high oleic sunflower oil within the food industry and in other industrial applications. As a result, production from high-oleic sunflower hybrids commands a price premium over regular oil sunflower.

  • The demand for oil sunflower is derived largely from the market demand for sunflower oil and meal, the by-products of the sunflower crush process. Sunflower seed oil is one of many vegetable oil products that make up the “oilseed complex.”

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