Initiative Organic Seed Sunflower (IOSS) News
Although sunflower oil is very popular, only hybrid varieties have been available in organic farming. Therefore, several organic companies joined forces in 2012 to support the Peter Kunz grain cultivation research in developing organic sunflower varieties of "High Oleic".
In 2017, the first newly cultivated organic populations were tested in different geographical locations with good oil content and good plant health. Enough seed was produced to continue with further field testings in 2018. If the results of the 2018 harvest are satisfactory, several selected organic farmers can already participate in further field testings in 2019. At the same time, variety registration can be initiated.
In the organic food and natural cosmetics industry, sunflower oil plays an important role as a raw material. Especially High-oleic (HO) sunflower oil is steadily gaining in importance. Thanks to an oleic acid content of over 78 percent, HO sunflower oils are nutritionally valuable. They are particularly suitable as cooking oil and for cosmetics production. The high content of monounsaturated oleic acid gives the oil excellent stability to light and heat. However, organic farmers produce mostly hybrid sunflowers that originate almost entirely from large seed corporations. In some cases, they are even patented. Due to unavailability of other products on the seed market, organic farmers do not have other choices .
In order to improve this situation in this context, but also with regard to bee-friendly varieties and the safeguarding of genetic resources, Peter Kunz grain research and Weleda started cultivation trials with different varieties back in 2005. This is how the initiative began.
What is remarkable and innovative about this project is the cooperation of a wide range of representatives from the organic sector: producer groups, processors and trading companies are among the sponsors. Thus, stakeholders from the entire value chain are represented. Out of a sense of responsibility for this particular crop, industry participants are joining forces to enable a non-profit initiative to carry out targeted breeding work. The project is currently financially backed by the following companies: All Organic Treasures, Bioland Handelsgesellschaft, Bioland Markt, Byodo Naturkost, Dreher Agrarrohstoffe, Fenaco, Huober Brezel, Naturata, Rapunzel Naturkost, Oleificio SABO, Wala Heilmittel and Weleda.
The goal is to cultivate a healthy variety with the following desired characteristics:
- high oil content in the seed
- High oleic acid content within the oil
- Stable plant health
- Good adaptation to the conditions of organic cultivation
- Sufficient gain
Further information at: www.getreidezuechtung.ch/projekte/s