By Julius Barcelona and Aubregyn Ancheta

In the language of flowers, the sunflower was originally seen as the flower of the sun god, following his course across the sky and given to wish the recipient a long life and good luck.

Wilson Cayat with the Known-You Sunshine Series Orange with Green Center sunflowers. He was impressed by the size of the blooms, with each one averaging around 6-8 inches in diameter, making them especially attractive.

These days, particularly in the Philippines, the sunflower is given to students upon their graduation to represent pride in their achievement and to wish them hope for a bright future. Yet sunflowers are in woefully short supply here in the Philippines. Wilson Cayat, 61, of Pico, La Trinidad told these writers that what sunflowers are in the market are small and not very attractive. As the owner of the Golden Rose Flower Shop in the Manila Dangwa Flower Market, he knew the potential market these flowers had in the Philippines.

Embracing the challenge, he set out to try planting the new Sunshine series of sunflowers as well as two unique varieties of Red Sunflower—the Prado Red and the Ring of Fire varieties—from Known-You Seed.

Cayat was impressed by the performance of the Sunshine Series and the Red varieties in the field, and expressed optimism that the unique colors of the Prado Red and Ring of Fire varieties might open up new markets for sunflowers.

At only 65 days before blooming, the Known-You sunflowers reached heights of up to 2 meters (m) and were very resistant to branching. This resulted in elegantly singlestemmed sunflowers in a variety of colors.

Known-You’s Ring of Fire Series sunflower at Cayat’s Golden Rose Flower Shop in the Dangwa Flower Market in Manila

He was especially enthusiastic about the new Sunshine Orange with Green Center variety. Cayat finds it more attractive than the usual orange sunflowers with black centers that are common in the market. He also noted the longer blooming period of the Prado Red Shades and Ring of Fire varieties, saying the flowers took up to two weeks before starting to droop, compared to 8-10 days for the more common sunflowers.

Known-You Seed has taken it upon itself to make the sunflower the symbol of a bright future for all graduates. Once the flowers bloomed, in partnership with Dr. Sonwright Maddul, Dean of the College of Agriculture at the Benguet State University, and Dr. Cielito Beltran, Dean of the College of Agriculture at the Tarlac Agricultural University, the company presented sunflowers to the best and the brightest graduates from each university.

Dr. Maddul, in appreciation of the company’s efforts to make the graduation ceremonies even more of an occasion to remember, said, “On behalf of the College of Agriculture, I would like to express our deep gratitude and sincere appreciation to Known-You Seed Philippines for the beautiful sunflowers given to our academic achievers during the graduation. You made our students a lot happier.”

Known-You Seed Philippines hopes that their sunflowers will continue to brighten the days of all graduates in the future, and in line with this, has committed to continue working to develop new and unique products for the growing Philippine market.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s August 2016 issue.