The winning team Ananda Unnikrishnan, Jesse Smart,  Breyton Mann, Nicholas Valese and Georgia Semrau.
The winning team Ananda Unnikrishnan, Jesse Smart, Breyton Mann, Nicholas Valese and Georgia Semrau.
21 May 2014

It’s a bloomin’ record-breaking year for the University of Queensland’s annual sunflower competition.

First-time entrants Mueller College used a mix of manure and bananas to produce a sunflower that weighed in at a whopping 4.455kg – the heaviest sunflower in the competition’s 15-year history.

Mueller College, in the Moreton Bay region, broke the 2013 record of 3.82kg held by Toowoomba’s Downlands College.

School students use scientific principles in an attempt to grow the heaviest sunflower in 12 weeks before the appointed weigh-in day at UQ’s Gatton campus.

Head of Mueller College Paul Valese said the students were surprised they had broken the record with their first entry.

He said their recipe for success included frozen bananas at the bottom of each pot plant.

Mr Valese also praised the school’s science staff, who used the competition as a practical way for students to apply their scientific knowledge.   

“The bar has definitely been set very high and next year's entrants from the college will need to start researching how they can improve on these results,” he said.

UQ’s School of Agriculture and Food Sciences Plant Pathologist Associate Professor Vic Galea said he was impressed with the caliber of entries from the schools.

 “Many students adopted various methods including different potting mixes, soil, fertilizers and light regimes all experimenting to ensure they could grow the heaviest sunflower,” he said.

More than 2500 students from 77 schools took part in this year’s competition, challenging the future generation of agriculturalists to explore the scientific principles behind horticulture and agronomy.

The competition also includes a poster and reflective journal component, which is being assessed by judges so schools that can’t attend the weigh-in day the chance to be involved. Winning entries in this category are submitted to the Queensland Science Contest.

The UQ Sunflower Competition is hosted by the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences and sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, The Australian Sunflower Association, AgriFood Skills Australia, Pacific Seeds, AgForce and supported by the Queensland Agriculture Teachers' Association.

MEDIA: Karli Kollegger, 07 5460 1279,