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You Are Here Sunflower Magazine > Sunflower Briefs

Sunflower Magazine

Sunflower Briefs
November 2012

2013 Sunflower Research Forum Is Jan. 9-10

The 35th annual National Sunflower Association Research Forum will be held at the Ramada Plaza Suites & Convention Center in Fargo, ND on January 9-10. This meeting brings together public and private researchers, as well as growers and industry representatives interested in updates on the latest research advances and challenges.

The combination of grower and industry checkoff dollars, the Sclerotinia Research Initiative, universities and a strong commitment from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service have all placed sunflower research as a high priority.

Research reports at the NSA Forum can be either oral or poster presentations. To schedule a presentation and/or register to attend the meeting, go to the NSA website at under the Calendar of Events tab.

Balbyshev Retires from Sunflower Research

Dr. Nikolay Balbyshev, NDSU research microbiologist, retired this past spring after working with several crop research groups, including potatoes, wheat and, most recently, sunflower. Balbyshev worked in the USDA Northern Crop Science Laboratory (Fargo) for the last nine years with the USDA’s Sunflower & Plant Biology Research Unit on the Sclerotinia project. He was solely responsible for producing the fungal “inoculum” used to initiate stalk rot and head rot in the unit’s field research plots. Many years, this amounted to 800-plus pounds of millet infested with Sclerotinia, and several hundred Petri dishes worth of spores for head rot. In addition, Balbyshev assisted in studies on the biology of Sclerotinia, plus projects dealing with Verticillium wilt and Phomopsis stem canker. With his fluency in Russian, he made several trips with Dr. Tom Gulya, USDA research pathologist, to visit Russian sunflower researchers, and thus helped the USDA unit establish and maintain contact with these scientists.

Bulgarian Researcher Visits ARS Fargo Unit

Dr. Brent Hulke, USDA-ARS research geneticist and adjunct professor in the North Dakota State University Plant Sciences Department, hosted Dr. Miroslava Hristova-Cherbadzhi of the agronomy faculty at the University of Forestry in Sofia, Bulgaria, for three months this year while she conducted research on sunflower. Her visit was sponsored through the USDA-FAS-sponsored Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship Program

Hristova-Cherbadzhi and Hulke conducted analysis of molecular markers from a SNP marker platform to map a resistance gene to the parasitic plant Orobanche. In addition to studying yield and nursery trials, she had the opportunity to observe sunflower disease and insect resistance evaluation nurseries. They also visited with other collaborators during her stay.

Named after the founder of the Green Revolution, the Borlaug program helps developing countries strengthen sustainable agricultural practices by providing scientific training and collaborative research opportunities to visiting researchers, policymakers and university faculty.

NSA Receives Specialty Crop Grant

The National Sunflower Association recently was awarded a grant for $76,100 to develop multiple rust-resistant confection sunflower hybrids. NSA was one of 10 entities to receive funds from the North Dakota Specialty Crop Grant program this year. More than $600,000 was awarded in all. This is the fourth consecutive year that the sunflower rust project, led by Dr. Lili Qi, USDA-ARS, Fargo, has been granted money from this program.

SunButter Makes Packaged Food Top 125 List

SunButter® made the list in Women’s Health magazine’s recently published 125 Best Packaged Foods. The annual list features some of the best (and most nutritious) canned, boxed and bagged foods. The list, selected by Women's Health editors and an expert panel of nutritionists, featured SunButter Natural No-Stir Creamy under the Condiments category. It is described as a way to “supercharge your next PB&J with this creamy sunflower seed spread. It’s loaded with healthy fats, protein, and fiber, not to mention a slightly sweeter-than-PB roasted flavor.”

Spitz Founder Inducted into Alberta Hall of Fame

The founder of Spitz, Tom Droog, was recently recognized for his significant professional contributions and inducted into the Agriculture Hall of Fame in Alberta, Canada. Droog of DeWinton, and his late wife, Emmy, started growing sunflower many years ago as an alternative crop and soon turned Spitz, which sells sunflower and pumpkin seeds in re-sealable bags, into a snack product that captured 75% of the Canadian market.

Since 1951, the Alberta Agriculture Hall of Fame has recognized outstanding contributions to agriculture and rural development. To date, 126 leaders have been inducted.

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