Initiative Organic Seed Sunflower (IOSS) News
Despite sunflower seed oil’s popularity, there are still only hybrid varieties in organic farming to date. Therefore, several organic companies joined together in 2012 in order to support the Peter Kunz grain cultivation research in developing high oleic organic sunflower varieties.
In 2017, newly cultivated organic populations were first tested at various geographic locations. The oil content and plant health results were satisfying. Enough seed was produced to continue with further field testing in 2018. Satisfactory test results in 2018 will enable select organic farmers to participate in further field testing in 2019. Simultaneously, the new variety will be ready for registering.
Sunflower oil is a vital resource in the organic food as well as natural cosmetics industries. Especially high oleic (HO) sunflower oil is increasing in popularity. Thanks to an oleic acid content of more than 78 percent, HO sunflower oils are nutritionally valuable. They are especially suitable as cooking oils as well as in manufacturing of beauty products. The high unsaturated fat content causes this oil to be particularly stable in context with light and heat. Nowadays, organic farming produces mostly hybrid sunflowers that originate almost entirely at large seed corporations. Occasionally these are even patented. However, organic farmers do not have other options due to unavailability of other products on the seed market. To remedy this situation, but also in consideration of bee-friendly varieties and securing of genetic resources, the Peter Kunz grain research and Weleda started cultivation trials with various types as early as 2005. Thus began the initiative.
Collaboration of a variety of members of the organic industry is remarkable and innovative: producer associations, processors and trading companies are among these representing every aspect of the supply chain. Out of their responsibility towards this particular crop, these supply chain members are concentrating their efforts to enable stream lined cultivation research for the common good. Currently the project is finally supported by the following: All Organic Treasures, Bioland Handelsgesellschaft, Bioland Markt, Byodo Naturkost, Dreher Agrarrohstoffe, Fenaco, Huober Brezel, Naturata, Rapunzel Naturkost, Oleificio SABO, Wala Heilmittel, and Weleda.
Goal is the cultivation of a healthy variety with these desired characteristics:
- High seed oil content
- High oleic acid content of the oil
- Stable plant health
- Good adaptation to organic growing conditions
- Adequate gain
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