All Copsley Ornamentals' sunflower inbreds and hybrids are proprietary lines developed in the company's nurseries, located in picturesque countryside outside Ballarat, north-west of Melbourne. The main 2ha nursery comprises some 2,500 plots across 200 inbred lines and 400 hybrids; it is a tapestry of plant types and colours, and a visual plant genetics classroom. The reaction of visitors indicates the potential for sequential plantings of FleuroSun sunflowers to be developed as market outlets and tourist attractions.
The program is managed by Dr Keith White. Keith has 40 years' experience in breeding, seed production and commercialisation of field crops, including oilseed sunflowers, grain sorghum and specialty canola. He has been developing FleuroSun inbreds and hybrids for over 15 years, including full-time since 2007. He is supported in the nursery by a team of 4-6 people.
COMMERCIAL TRIALS: Advanced hybrids are included in commercial-type trials alongside the nursery and at several other sites, to assess their prospects in a commercial situation. Hybrids are often planted using a reel planter which has seeds spaced at set distances along cotton tape, to give accurate plant spacing.
Trials of Copsley Ornamentals hybrids have been conducted in several countries in recent years. These have highlighted the potential for selected FleuroSun hybrids in overseas markets, including for cut-flowers and for dwarf hybrids in pots.