The production of sunflower, which is the important source of vegetable oil in South Africa, is most prevalent in the summer rainfall areas.

Common name: Sunflower

Scientific name: Helianthus annuus

It is a crop which, compared to other crops, performs well under drought conditions; this is probably the main reason for the crop’s popularity in the marginal areas of South Africa. Sunflower is comparable to maize in many ways although it can extract water more efficiently in low-rainfall areas.

In South Africa, sunflower is planted from the beginning of November to the end of December in the eastern areas and to mid-January in the western areas. Sunflower seeds are planted at relatively shallow depths. In soil with a high clay content, seeds are planted at a depth of 25 mm. In sandy soils, seeds can be planted at a depth of up to 50 mm. In most cases South African sunflower is cultivated under dry land during the summer rainfall season (November to March).

Although sunflower draws large quantities of potassium from the soil, potassium fertilisation is usually unnecessary, as South African soils generally have adequate quantities of this nutrient.

It is best to have on-farm storage available; however, storage in silos is the usual approach in South Africa.

The sunflower marketing in South Africa commences on 1 January and ends on 31 December of the calendar year


Classes of sunflower seed

Sunflower seed shall be classified as:

Class FH
Class FS
Class FGP
Class Other Sunflower Seed.

Standards for classes of sunflower seed

• A consignment of sunflower seed shall be classified as Class FH if it:
– consists mainly of sunflower seeds with a high oil content
– does not contain more than 20 % sunflower seed of Class FS or Class FGP
– complies with the standards for Grade 1 set out in regulation 6
• Class FS:
– consists mainly of white sunflower seeds or clearly white-striped sunflower seeds or a mixture of white and white-striped sunflower seeds registered and described as a variety suitable for bird feed, in terms of the Plant Improvement Act, 1976 (Act No. 53 of 1976)
– does not contain more than 20 % sunflower seed of Class FH or Class FGP
– complies with the standards for Grade 1 set out in regulation 6
• Class FGP:
– consists of large sunflower seeds of which not more than 5 % passes through a 5,5 mm round hole screen
– complies with the standards for Grade 1 as set out in regulation 6
• Class Other Sunflower Seed:
– does not comply with the requirements for Class FH, Class FS or Class FGP
Grades for sunflower seed
There is only one grade for the Classes FH, FS and FGP Sunflower Seeds.
A consignment of Grade I sunflower seed should:
• be free of a musty, sour, khaki-weed or other undesirable smell
• be free of any substance that renders it unsuitable for human or animal consumption or for processing into or utilisation as food or feed
• contain not more than 5 noxious seeds per 400 g, of which no more than one may be of Crotalaria species and of which none may be of Ricinus communis
• be free of stones, glass, metal, coal or dung
• be free of insects
• not exceed the maximum permissible deviation
• contain not more than 10 % moisture

Major production areas in South Africa:

North West: Rustenburg, Moretele, Koster, Brits, Madikwe, Mafikeng, Delareyville, Litchenburg, Stella, Zeerust, Sannieshof, Schweizer-Reneke, Bloemhof, Ventersdorp, Potchefstroom, Klerksdorp

Free State: Bloemfontein area, Ladybrand, Morojaneng, Botshabelo, Eastern Free, State, Thaba Nchu, Wepener, Bothaville, Bultfontein, Dealesville, Allanridge, Boschoff, Goldfields, Arlington, Bethlehem, Clarens, Clocolan, Harrismith, Lindley, Maluti, Kestell, Cornelia, Edenville, Frankfort, Kroonstad, Heilbron, Koepel, Koppies, Kroonkop

North West: Dendron, Moletjie, Dikgale, Lebowakgomo, Zebediela, Mankweng, Noko-tlou, Bosveld, Northam, Vaalwater, Tswelopele, Mookgopong, Bela-Bela, Mokopane

Mpumalanga: Eastvaal, Badplaas, Carolina, Ekulindeni, Breyten, Empuluzi, Highveld DC, Middelburg, Belfast, Delmas, Kriel, Hendrina, Lowveld Escarpment, Lydenburg, Mbombela, White River