2011 Sunflower Research Forum
Nearly 200 attendees heard reports on a broad range of research topics at the 2011 NSA Research Forum held in January in Fargo, N.D. A total of 42 papers or posters were presented on research taking place from Canada to south Texas and all points in between. Of particular interest were reports on the progress of identifying molecular markers known as SNPs. This NSA-coordinated project provides a new and improved genetic tool for public and private breeders. The project is well underway, with the Fargo-based USDA-ARS Sunflower Research Unit keying on Sclerotinia stalk rot as a first project.
Among the other forum topics generating close attention was efficacy work on soon-to-be released fungicides for control of Sclerotinia head rot. This is of great interest to crop advisors and confection sunflower processors as well as growers.
PowerPoint presentations of all of the reports can be found on the NSA website under the “Research” tab. In summary, the reports point out a great deal of sunflower research is in the pipeline, promising to pay dividends in the near future.
USDA’s Final 2010 Production Report
USDA released its final 2010 crop report in January. The 2010 production of all types of sunflower totaled 2.74 billion lbs, down 10% from 2009. The 2010 planted sunflower area, at 1.95 million acres, was 4% below that of 2009. Area harvested decreased 4% from 2009, down to 1.87 million acres. The U.S. average yield of 1,460 lbs/ac was 94 lbs less than the previous year’s record high. Yields were down in five of the nine major sunflower-producing states.
U.S. production of oil-type sunflower seed this past year, at 2.07 billion lbs, decreased 20% from 2009. Harvested acres were down 14% from the previous year and were the lowest since 1990. Although it decreased by 105 lbs, to 1,458 lbs/ac, the 2010 U.S. average yield for oil-type sunflower varieties was still the sixth highest on record.
Production of nonoil sunflower, at 661 million lbs, increased 46% compared to 2009. Area harvested of 451,300 acres was up 50% from 2009. The average yield of 1,465 lbs was a decrease of 41 lbs from the 2009 record nonoil sunflower yield.
Former Sunflower Breeder Straley Passes
The sunflower breeding community is quite small, and that group lost a friend and colleague on December 13, 2010. Mary Lou Straley was an accomplished sunflower breeder. Straley, who received her Ph.D from Montana State University in plant pathology, spent most of her professional career with Cargill Seeds and was instrumental in the introduction of industry-leading hybrids such as Cargill 270. After Cargill Seeds was sold to Mycogen, Straley remained with Cargill in its intellectual property division. She died in Argentina at the age of 67.
Hull-less Confection Planting Seed Interest
The NSA Research Committee has agreed to extend the time frame for accepting research proposals for developing confection planting seed with the hull removed. The committee received no proposals and agreed this issue continues to be a high priority. The issue of greatest concern is damage to the growing point while removing the hull. Planting the extra long seeds can be challenging for farmers with existing equipment, which can result in inconsistent stands. The large seeds also require extra time to germinate.
The research committee is looking for proposals from universities or groups with expertise in this area of seed processing. Contact NSA staff Larry Kleingartner or Tina Mittlesteadt for further information, including the guidelines for applying.
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