Outblooming the competition

17 May 2017
Grand champions from Nanango State High School.

Nanango State High School outgrew all the competition in this year’s annual Sunflower Competition, taking the overall grand champion and an additional four awards.

The Year 7 to 10 group in the fertile South Burnett locality grew a giant sunflower weighing 3.463kg, which topped a weigh-in at UQ Gatton campus.

Nanango State High School is one of 86 high schools from across Queensland, NSW, Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria who participated this year, with 3826 students taking part in the classroom.

Fifteen schools attended The University of Queensland for the annual Sunflower Competition Weigh-In Day.

The students have been growing their sunflowers over a 12-week period, aiming to beat the record weight of 4.455kg set by Mueller College in 2014.

Since the initial planting date of 28 February, students have grown potted sunflowers at school, experimenting with different soils, light regimes, water applications and fertilisers, and considering environmental factors such as weather and growing conditions in their region and how this affect sunflower growth.

In addition to the formal presentations and announcement of the 2017 winners, the budding agriculturalists and their teachers toured the Gatton campus, heard from industry representatives and participated in science activities.

The competition, now in its 18th year, promotes the science behind agronomy and horticulture.

It's an interactive learning opportunity to encourage a new generation of plant scientists to uphold Australia’s position at the forefront of agricultural production.

Teachers use the competition to deliver the science curriculum in a plant-based context.

Schools in remote and regional areas who can't attend the weigh-in day are encouraged to enter the Communicating Science category of the competition.

The UQ Sunflower Competition is hosted by the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, and sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, The Australian Sunflower Association, Pacific Seeds, NuSeeds and the UQ Gatton Past Students Association.

2017 competition results

Overall Grand Champion: Nanango State High School Years 7-10, 3.463kg

Tallest Sunflower Prize: St Edmunds College, Ipswich, Group 7-9, 2.56m

Most Ornamental Sunflower Prize: St Aidan’s Anglican Girls School, Year 8

Encouragement Award 1: Taroom State School, Year 9

Encouragement Award 2: Genesis Christian College, Years 10-12

Heaviest Sunflower Category Years 7 to 10:

  • 1st Nanango State High School, 3.463kg
  • 2nd Glasshouse Christian College, 3.284kg
  • 3rd Nanango State High School, 3.122kg

Heaviest Sunflower Category Years 11 and 12:

  • 1st Nanango State High School, 3.032kg                                
  • 2nd Nanango State High School, 2.579kg                
  • 3rd Laidley State High School, 2.056kg


Jackie Mergard: j.mergard@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3365 3634