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NC State Extension

Helianthus ‘Solara’

Sunflower 'Solara'

Trial: Annual

Years Trialed: 2006

Good Qualities:

Good color (6); Pollenless (3); Sturdy stems (5); Color and appearance great for retail florist arrangements; Excellent germination and plant health, consistent flower shape and size, flowers smaller from second planting, excellent plant health; These tend to face more upwards than other sunflowers which makes them great for all-sided bouquet, great bouquet sunflower; A spectacular flower! A favorite! Large 6 inch blooms have rich orange petals and a very large, very dark center (one of its nicest attributes); Good 4 foot height, strong neck; Flower big and bright, easy, height!; Nice petal size, long lasting; Easy; Thick petals, an excellent early-season sunflower; One of the prettiest sunflowers we grew this summer, the dark centers really set it off; The same color as ‘Sunrich Orange’, performs like ‘Sunrich Orange’- a little shorter crop tune and overall its just a little shorter in height than ‘Sunrich Orange’; Very uniform; Crisp appearance; Size of head and height, wholesalers like the head size.

Problems:

None (4); Not as early as ‘ProCut Orange’; Had a few heads that didn’t open evenly, cause unknown; Blooms coincided with our annual influx of corn rootworm beetle, even without pollen, the beetles chewed petals if we did not harvest early (just as they opened) and often; ‘Sunrich Orange’ is “softer” and better looking; Too short too cut, small flowers, did not cut – Our May flood was too much for this new sunflower, planted 8 to 10 varieties (Sun series and Procut series), they grew (same conditions, shorter than usual, but cuttable 24 to 30 inches); Early fungal disease, petals not open always completely; Hard to keep up with insects on sunflowers this year, had problems with head cutter weevils; Had a lot of leaves on the head, which I didn’t particularly like; Seemed to stretch more than ‘Sunbright Supremes’ when growing transplants.

Similar Cultivars:

‘Sunrich Orange’ (3); Similar to ‘Procut Orange’ except about 2 weeks later to bloom; ‘Procut Orange’, but better! For early crop, ‘Solara’ has stronger stems, necks and thicker petals; Would strongly consider growing along with the Procut series; ‘Sunbright Supreme’.

Postharvest:

Cut just when petals are starting to lift and unfurl from the bud; Plain water. Note: Check out the separate postharvest article in this issue for more information on postharvest vase life and treatments.

Comments:

Stem length disappointed – definitely climate related; In the field was a few days later than ‘ProCut Orange’, in the high tunnel, matured at the same time – In the field, ‘Solara’ had a lot of off-types, misshaped flowers – in the high tunnels, the flowers were normal. ‘Solara’ was shorter than ‘ProCut’ in a late September harvest in the high tunnels – about 30 to 36 inches and actually was a nicer, more uniform stem diameter, etc. cut; Seed is fairly expensive; Peak bloom 8/28, stems could have been cut as long as 5 feet, but no need for such long stems at farmers market ; Good orange-yellow color, nice contrast between center and rays; This is a real beauty!; Flower looks more pointed and sharp” than ‘Sunrich Orange’, more “pleating” each petal; Did not like wet springs; It did not seem that different from what I already grow, I would try it again though I find the ‘Pro’ series has problems- for me anyway – with petal drop-making, they are harder to sell at farmers markets; Great plant!; If Benary wants to compete with ‘Sunrich Orange’ they will have to beat them in price too – ‘Solara’ can definitely compete with ‘Sunrich Orange’; Seeded directly to a 128 cell tray 4/20/06, harvest period 6/26-7/8.

Trial Data

Helianthus ‘Solara’
Plants flowering (%) Plants dead at end of summer (%) Yield (stems/plant) Stem Length (inches) Market Appreciation Rating – Wholesale (1) Market Appreciation Rating – Retail (1) Market Appreciation Rating – Consumer (1) Repeat Again Rating (1) Ease of Cultivation Rating (1)
Average 1.0 41.2 4.8 4.8 4.5 4.1 4.4 96.5 9.3
Range of Responses 1 24-60 4-5 4-5 3-5 1-5 3-5 24-208 7-12

(1) 1 to 5 scale, with 5 being the best. Market ratings are based on sales to wholesalers, retailers, or final consumers direct.

Supplier

Ernst Benary Seed

1444 Larson St.

Sycamore, IL 60178

www.benary.com