ProCut Series® Sunflowers—Comparison of Orange Varieties

The ProCut® series is a really good option for single stem pollenless sunflowers that are early to flower. Typically the varieties within the series flower within 50 to 60 days from seed and they're known for their:

  • uniformity
  • large blooms
  • full, ruffly double layer of petals around the blooms
  • strong, sturdy stems

There's a a wide range of colors within the ProCut® series. Today, I'm going to be talking about the options within the ProCut® series for a classic traditional orange sunflower with the black disk. We have a few different options within the ProCut® series if you want this very traditional sunflower look. We have four different varieties that I'm going to talk about today and I'll share some information about the differences between these varieties and why you might choose one over the other.

ProCut® Orange

ProCut® Orange is the original classic ProCut®. It was the first ProCut® that was developed. It's been on the market for almost 20 years and with good reason. This is a really classic traditional orange sunflower with the bright orange gold ray petals and the dark disk And some of the things that you can see in this variety that are characteristic of the ProCut® series is this nice full double layer of petals, typically a little bit wider ray petals with a little bit more of a rounded shape to them.

It matures a little bit closer to the 60 day mark for us and 60 to 72" tall, depending on the season. It's a really strong option for if you're looking for a classic or traditional orange sunflower.

ProCut® Orange DMR (Downy Mildew Resistance)

Since ProCut® Orange came out, the breeder of this variety, Dr. Tom Heaton, has developed several other kind of variations or versions of this classic sunflower look with some different characteristics and I'm going to speak to each of those. In addition to ProCut® Orange, there is now also ProCut® Orange DMR. DMR stands for Downy Mildew Resistance.

This has been a new development in the past few years in sunflower breeding, and that's the ability to include resistance to downy mildew in some sunflower varieties. We currently offer ProCut® Orange DMR with that downy mildew resistance. If downy mildew is something that you experience and struggle with in your sunflowers, this could be a good option for you.

Typically downy mildew can persist in soils and is particularly problematic in cool wet soils. Some of the symptoms that you might see in plants are stunting yellowing of leaves, and especially when the plants are smaller, you may also eventually see some powdery growth on the undersides of the leaves as well. If, as with any sunflower disease, it's important to confirm a diagnosis through a plant lab, through your extension service.

If you know that downy mildew in sunflowers is something that is a problem for you, then trying some of these DMR varieties may be helpful. In terms of plant performance, ProCut® Orange DMR is identical to ProCut® Orange in terms of the bloom size, the bloom shape, all of those characteristics that I talked about with ProCut® Orange, that kind of full double layer of ray petals, that sort of ruffly look to the blooms.

The biggest difference that we've seen between these two varieties in trial is that ProCut® Orange DMR tends to bloom 1 to 2 days later for us and is also just a little bit taller than ProCut® Orange in our trials. So otherwise than that, these two varieties are really identical visually and performance wise. And but just the ProCut® Orange DMR offers that that downy mildew resistance if that's something that is a problem for you.

ProCut® Orange Excel

The next ProCut® Orange variety that I'm going to show is ProCut® Orange Excel. That's what I'm holding here in my left hand. In my right is a ProCut® Orange. Hopefully you can see that these varieties are also very similar in appearance. The biggest difference between these two varieties is that ProCut® Orange Excel flowers earlier.

It flowers closer to the 50 to 55 day range after seeding for us in our trials. Whereas ProCut® Orange tends to be a little bit more towards the 60 days to maturity in our trials. So generally we see ProCut® Orange Excel flowering 5 to 7 days earlier than ProCut® Orange. With respect to the the bloom appearance, they are very, very similar. ProCut® Orange Excel can sometimes be a little bit on the shorter side, but otherwise it has kind of those same characteristics of the nice full bloom that opens wide and full and very uniform presentation and is a good option if you're looking for something even earlier than ProCut® Orange.

ProCut® Horizon

The last variety that I'm going to talk about this is ProCut® Horizon. This is a variety that has stood out in our trials for the uniformity of the bloom time and also the uniformity of the bloom, shape and size. This variety also flowers on the earlier side of the ProCut®. Typically 50 to 55 days to maturity in our trials.

That puts it in the similar timing to ProCut® Orange Excel and a little bit earlier than ProCut® Orange. And so again, I mentioned the uniformity of these blooms and the bloom time within the plots. Hopefully you can see from the flowers that I'm holding here. So on my left is ProCut® Horizon and on my right is ProCut® Orange.

One of the things that we have observed is the uniformity of these blooms and also these blooms tend to be a little bit smaller than ProCut® Orange on the same spacing. So again, in my left is ProCut® Horizon. Hopefully you can see that the the ray petals on these blooms are really densely packed around the disk.

Also they tend to be a little bit shorter than the ray petals on ProCut® Orange which whereas ProCut® Orange has kind of a ruffly look to it, ProCut® Horizon has a little bit more of a compact, refined look to these blooms. The blooms also tend to be just a little bit shorter than ProCut® Orange on the same spacing.

These flowers that I'm holding were both grown on the same spacing, four inches between plants. And you can see hopefully the difference between the bloom sizes here. In addition to the slightly smaller bloom size, we have also observed ProCut® Horizon to be a little bit taller and also to have slightly thinner stems than ProCut® Orange.

Again, it's some of the main differences between ProCut® Horizon and ProCut® Orange are the earlier days to maturity, slightly smaller bloom size, slightly more compact, refined appearance, a really high degree of uniformity in the bloom time and also the flower form and then also slightly thinner stem. It has just a little bit of a different look than ProCut® Orange.

If you're looking for a really uniform, reliable early orange sunflower variety, I would recommend ProCut® Horizon. And hopefully this video gives you an idea of some of the differences. If you're used to growing ProCut® Orange, these are some of the things you might observe if you start incorporating ProCut® Horizon into your planting plan.

In Summary

To summarize the varieties that we have talked about from earliest flowering to latest flowering in our trials is, we have ProCut® Orange Excel: typically the first to flower, classic sunflower look very comparable to ProCut® Orange, just a little bit earlier and tends to be a little bit shorter in our trials.

Next to flower, very similar timing to ProCut® Orange Excel, is ProCut® Horizon. However, this has a little bit more of a distinctive look in that the ray petals are a little bit shorter, the blooms are a little bit smaller, but they're also very compact and uniform and a really good option for uniformity and earlier flowering than ProCut® Orange.

Then next is the classic ProCut® Orange, which again is just a really strong option for the traditional sunflower look, good vigor and a little bit closer to the 60 days to maturity bloom time in our trials.

Finally there's ProCut® Orange DMR which is an option if you are dealing with downy mildew pressure in your sunflowers. The ProCut® Orange DMR is also the latest flowering of these classic orange ProCut® varieties. It's typically 1 to 2 days later for us than ProCut® Orange in our trials.