20 May 2015

More than 250 high school students battled it out to take home the title of Queensland’s top sunflower grower during The University of Queensland’s annual Sunflower Competition, which finished with a Weigh-In Day on Tuesday (19 May).

Back to back winners in 2012 and 2013, Toowoomba Downlands College students were pleased to regain the title by winning both the heaviest and tallest sunflower prizes with a 2.69 metre tall sunflower weighing in at 3.54 kilograms.

The winning team of Year 10 students Jase Lamborn and Baxter McCamley said they had used methods such as different potting mixes, soil, fertilizers and light regimes to grow the winner.

“When we planted our sunflowers we applied jump start to the roots and made sure that we regularly watered and fertilized our sunflowers,” Mr Lamborn said.

“As well as growing the sunflowers in class, we also prepared a scientific report where we experimented with different variables and recorded changes in height, width of the stem and the number of leaves.

“It was interesting watching the sunflowers develop as they were quite fast growing and when we would check on them, we were impressed with their growth.”

Image: Sue Thompson from the Australian Sunflower Association joins Downlands College students Baxter McCamley and Jase Lamborn with DowAgroSciences Rosanna Common.

Mr Lamborn is considering a career as an agronomist or working with cattle in the field of agriculture.   

“Attending the weigh-in day has also opened our eyes to all of the different careers available in agriculture,” he said.

Associate Professor Vic Galea, Plant Pathologist from UQ’s School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, said she was highly impressed by the caliber of entries put forward by the schools and in particular, the way the competition has attracted new schools.

“It was great to see the students rewarded for all of their hard work in the classroom over the past 12 weeks and the dedication shown by the students to the task of nurturing their sunflowers showed they were committed and wanted to be involved in a fun and educational project,” he said.

“This year we have seen a number of new schools join the competition and attend the weigh-in day at UQ Gatton, as well as some schools taking part from Western Australia and South Australia.”

Almost 90 schools participated in the 2015 competition, reaching over 3000 students in the classroom.

At the weigh-in day, students participated in interactive sunflower themed science activities and heard from industry speakers on the importance of scientific knowledge and the diverse science based careers available.

The UQ Sunflower Competition, hosted by the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, The Australian Sunflower Association (ASA), Pacific Seeds, AgForce, Queensland Agriculture Teachers' Association (QATA) and the UQ Gatton past Students Association .

Media: Karli Kollegger, k.kollegger@uq.edu.au, 0488 780 229


Image: Sue Thompson from the Australian Sunflower Association joins Downlands College students Baxter McCamley and Jase Lamborn with DowAgroSciences Rosanna Common.



Overall ‘Heaviest’ Grand Champion


Downlands College                                                                                     3.540kg


Australian Sunflower Association ‘Heaviest’ Sunflower Category

Years 7-10

1st – Downlands College class 10A                                                           3.540kg

2nd - Downlands College class 9-2                                                            2.855kg

3rd - Downlands College class  10B                                                          2.799kg



Dow AgroSciences ‘Heaviest’ Sunflower Category


Years 11&12


1st – Marymount College grade 12                                          2.296kg

2nd – Glasshouse Country Christian College                            2.151kg

3rd – Glasshouse Country Christian College                            2.099kg


Tallest Sunflower Prize

Downlands College                                                                      2.69m


Most Ornamental Sunflower Prize

Kings Christian College

Encouragement Award 1

Kilcoy State High School


Encouragement Award 2

Ipswich State High School