A Downlands College student participates in plant science activities during  last year’s Weigh-In Day event.
A Downlands College student participates in plant science activities during last year’s Weigh-In Day event.
9 May 2013

High school students across Queensland and New South Wales are discovering the role that weather plays in plant science as participants in The University of Queensland’s annual Sunflower Competition.

This year’s Weigh-in Day, on May 21, is forecasted to be the most unpredictable yet due to the variance in weather conditions between the competing regions.

This year’s competition coordinator Monique Nevison is excited to see what this year’s Weigh-in Day will bring.

“With more than one third of Queensland now drought declared, the extremely dry conditions affecting some schools are a far cry from the unrelenting rainfall experienced by others during the 2011 and 2013 floods,” she said.

“Schools have reported small triumphs along the way, while some have experienced the full brunt of their local environment.”

Agricultural Science Teacher Dr Jeffrey Buchanan and his students from Downlands College in Toowoomba broke a longstanding record for the heaviest sunflower in 2012 and are considering themselves serious contenders again this year.

“Our plants have been going well this year and we are striving to match or better the plants we entered in last year’s competition,” Dr Buchanan said.

While in Brisbane, first-time entrants Anglican Church Grammar School (ACGS), mysteriously found their plants destroyed overnight by an unknown cause, thought to be mice or possums.

Each year 300 students, teachers and industry representatives attend the official Weigh-In Day event, where sunflowers are weighed to determine a winner.

Corinda State High School, Dakabin State High School, Downlands College, Ferny Grove State High School, Goondiwindi State High School, Ipswich Grammar School, Marymount College, Nambour State High School, Noosa District State High School, Pittsworth State High School, Toowoomba Grammar School and Toowoomba State High School Wilsonton Campus are set to attend the Weigh-In Day event.

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 and is supported by the Queensland Agriculture Teachers’ Association (QATA).

Media are welcomed to attend the official Weigh-In Day held at UQ’s Gatton campus on Tuesday, 21 May from 9:30am to 12:30pm.

Media: UQ Faculty of Science Engagement Officer, Monique Nevison, 07 3346 4129 or m.nevison@uq.edu.au