New breed/ hybrid sunflower! Market opportunities??


I always have lots of flowers in my allotment garden. Sunflowers, originally from 3 different  seed package varieties 5 years ago, come up spontaneously in spring, the seeds spread by birds. I usually collect the seedlings to put them in some rows, for beauty, wind protection and bird/ bee food. This year a large plant came up with double flowers.

I have only ever seen small plants with double flowers. I am collecting all old flower heads and will sow these seeds in a small field next year, weed out all non double sunflower plants, and protect them from being pollinated by other, non double plants.  So next year I might end up with a big bag of seeds for big double sunflowers! So far so good, but then???

I think many people would love to buy a packet of these seeds, but how to go about? Should I change my pseudonym BobS to BobMonsanto?

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Burf5 years ago
My first thought is, "Will they actually reproduce?" Most genetic mutations and hybrids are sterile. And if they do reproduce, will they actually be as good as or superior in some way to the originating stock?

As for the name change, having grown up in an agricultural community, I know first hand that Monsanto is highly litigious when it comes to their products, intellectual property and brands. Tread with caution there.
cfirestone5 years ago
There is a couple possibilities:

1. pesticides from other growers could have drifted over and caused abnormal growth.

2. Sunflower mites, which live in the ground and grow on sunflowers nearly invisibly. Their bites cause sunflowers to do multi blooms

3. There are commercial variety's of multi-flora sunflowers. You could have cross-bred with one of those from other sunflowers in your garden area.
BobS (author)  cfirestone5 years ago
The most likely possibiltity according to me is a hybrid between a 'regular' large sunflower (wild type), and the small 2 ft- 60 cm 'double flower' (sorry, 'double' is a mistranslation from Dutch, which describes the type of flower in the pic) variety.

Sowing and propagating this years seeds will show how the genes for 'double' and 'normal size' will be shuffled, and if it holds truee, I might end up with a bag of very nice seeds!
cfirestone5 years ago
http://www.pandpseed.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=pandpseed&Product_Code=MHSUNF837F1&Category_Code=SunflowerSS

This is a link to a site that sells multihead sunflowers.

He had the world record of 837 heads on one plant. WOW!

BobS (author)  cfirestone5 years ago
Although it it more than likely that my hybrid has been grown elsewhere before, it is NOT necessarily a multihead flower:

The yellow petals reach all the way to the center.

From my experience, sunflowers will make multiple heads when exposed to stress as a seedling; all my transplanted seedlings always will make multiple heads, while seedlings left in place seldomly do.
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cfirestone5 years ago
you may be able to market them locally as "locally grown multi-flora sunflowers. I'd plant them for another year in a different spots to see if the variety holds true, or if it is a localized thing ( mites / herbicidal / etc)