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You Are Here Sunflower Magazine > A Look Back - 30 Years

Sunflower Magazine

A Look Back - 30 Years
January 2012

Flower Power Ends First Year — “Twelve tractors participating in the field testing of sun oil-blended fuel accumulated more than 6,500 hours of operating time in 1981, according to Flower Power, Inc., the North Dakota nonprofit organization coordinating the test. Eleven of the 12 are still involved in the experiment. One tractor, operating on a 50 percent sun oil blend, experienced excessive blow-by and stuck compression rings and dropped out of the testing program. It appears this failure was due to a polymerization of the sunflower oil caused by an inferior grade of lubricating oil.

“The onset of colder temperatures this past fall brought very few problems with engine starting or filter blockage due to increased viscosity (thickness of the oil). It appears the 25 and 50 percent blends did not initiate viscosity problems.

“The tractor engines have now been partially disassembled and evaluated for deposits and wear.”

Sunflower Outlook: The ’80s / Allen Housh, vice president, Processing Group-Sunflower/Flax/Peanuts, Cargill, Inc. — “The simple fact is that sunflower oil, right now, is not competitive with the world’s major edible oil, which is soybean oil. If we are to build our domestic market, if we are to exploit the potential for new markets in such countries as India and Pakistan, we must make sunflower oil competitive — and I think we can.

“We must generate a consistently higher revenue per acre for sunflower seed. That’s the key. That will allow sunflower oil to compete with the alternate crops to become more competitive with the price of oil in both foreign and domestic markets.

“Can this be achieved? I believe it can. There’s a good future in the sunflower crop for the producer and the processor, but it’s going to take a lot of work on everyone’s part to get there. And it’s not going to happen overnight.

“The processors have demonstrated that they have confidence in this future. Cargill, ADM and Honeymead already have invested in crushing capacity that currently needs one million metric tons of sunflower seed a year. But only about 600,000 tons are available, because of the two million tons being produced, 1.4 million tons are being exported. And another 500,000 tons of seed per year will be needed next year as two new plants go on stream — Midwest Processing at Velva and National Sun Industries at Enderlin, N.D.”

Semi-Dwarf Hybrids: A Promising Future? / Don Lilleboe — “Dwarf sunflower hybrids are now being actively developed by several companies, and other firms are also taking a look at the long-term potential of dwarfs.

“Actually, the term ‘dwarf’ may be somewhat of a misnomer. Researchers seem to prefer terms such as ‘semi-dwarf’ or ‘reduced-height hybrid’ when describing the shorter-than-normal hybrids they’re currently working with. “I look at a ‘dwarf’ as being greatly reduced in height from normal height. But then you have to ask, ‘What’s a normal height?’ ” remarks Dr. Freeman Johnson, vice president-research for Red River Commodities, Fargo, N.D. It should be recalled that compared to some of the old open-pollinated varieties such as Peredovik, current hybrids — 894 types being an example — are significant shorter. . . .

“Among those breeders most actively pursuing semi-dwarf development at this moment, there are some common priorities: (1) an emphasis on less height — at least 15 to 20 percent shorter than ‘normal height’ hybrids; (2) a concurrence that true dwarfness is a genetically, not environmentally, determined factor; (3) a major advantage of dwarfness being a reduced susceptibility to lodging due to shorter height and better stalk strength; and (4) that the semi-dwarfs being developed must, in order to be feasible, be at least equivalent to conventional height hybrids in terms of yield, oil content and disease resistance.

“ ‘The dwarfs we’re working with in this area are about two feet shorter than the standard types — standard referring to 894 or hybrids closely related to it,’ says Dr. G.N. Fick, research director for SIGCO Research, Breckenridge, Minn. ‘In terms of height, we’re talking three to four feet tall under optimum conditions.’. . .

“Johnson’s definition of a dwarf or semi-dwarf sunflower hybrid emphasizes ‘a shortening of the distance between internodes’ — points at which the leaves attach to the stem.”

Standard Sought for Evaluation of Seed Vigor — “Even sunflower seed with a high germination percentage may result in a poor field stand if the seed is not vigorous. Currently, however, there are no standard tests used to evaluate vigor in sunflower seed, says Dr. Albert Schneiter, agronomist at North Dakota State University.

“ ‘We are trying to establish some type of a standard for evaluating seed vigor so that a few years from now a producer may buy seed with both a vigor rating and a percent germination,’ Schneiter notes. ‘Germination tests simply indicate how many seeds are alive and do not necessarily relate well to how the seed will perform during emergence.’ ”

Duluth/Superior Year-End Stats — “Duluth/Superior terminals shipped out more sunflower seed in 1981 than in 1980, according to the Seaway Port Authority of Duluth. The port closed out 1981 at 1,327,300 metric tons, compared to 1,249,018 metric tons in 1980. . . . The December 1981 total was 230,375 tons, while in December of 1980 only 141,313 metric tons of sunflower seed left Duluth/Superior for overseas markets.”

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