2019 NSA Funded Research
The National Sunflower Association selected and funded the following research projects for the 2019 year. Funding was also in part possible due to the North Dakota Oilseeds Council, South Dakota Oilseeds Council, Colorado Sunflower Administrative Committee, Kansas Sunflower Commission, Minnesota Sunflower Council and the North Dakota State Board of Agricultural Research and Education.
2019 NSA-Funded Research Projects

Development of Confection Sunflower Effectively Resistant to Downy Mildew
Principal Investigators: Lili Qi and Guojia Ma, USDA ARS
Project Objectives: Downy mildew (DM) is an important cause of yield loss in confection sunflower. Unfortunately, no resistant germplasm or commercial hybrids are available in confection sunflower. The objectives of this proposed project are to develop molecular detection methods for emerging P. halstedii races, to identify diagnostic DNA markers linked to DM resistance genes, Pl17Pl18, and Pl19, and to transfer these modern technologies and promising disease resistance materials to stakeholders to accelerate confection sunflower breeding and incorporate into finished hybrids. 
Funded Amount: $120,309
Quantification of Yield Loss from Rhizopus Head Rot in Sunflower 
Principal Investigators: Bob Harveson, University of Nebraska, Scottsbluff, and Febina Mathew, South Dakota State University.  
Project Objectives: To effectively evaluate future screening of sunflower lines for resistance, or the positive effects of fungicide applications, it is important to determine and understand the negative implications of Rhizopus infection on yield reductions.  This project will induce disease and document the extent of potential damage to both oil and confection sunflower production under field conditions from multiple geographically and environmentally different locations within sunflower production areas of the Great Plains.   
Funded Amount: $12,000
Effect of Sunflower Growth Stage on Phomopsis Stem Canker Development
Principal Investigators: Febina Mathew, South Dakota State University, Sam Markell, North Dakota State University and Bob Harveson, University of Nebraska, Scottsbluff.  
Project Objectives: The primary objective of this study is to determine the relationship of time of infection to development of Phomopsis stem canker on sunflower. The results of this study will help improve our understanding of the etiology of Phomopsis stem canker, help develop strategies to manage the disease and provide recommendations to sunflower producers in the region to manage Phomopsis stem canker.
Funded Amount: $21,418
Effectiveness of Fungicides to Manage Phomopsis Stem Canker of Sunflower
Principal Investigators: Febina Mathew, South Dakota State University, Sam Markell, North Dakota State University and Bob Harveson, University of Nebraska, Scottsbluff.  
Project Objectives: The research objectives are to (1) determine the sensitivity of P. helianthiand P. gulyae to candidate fungicides in vitro and under greenhouse conditions; and (2) test effective fungicides (based on results of Objective 1) using a susceptible hybrid and a partially resistant hybrid under field conditions in Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. If this research is successful, the effective fungicides determined from this study will be used for developing and providing fungicide recommendations to sunflower producers for managing Phomopsis stem canker.
Funded Amount: $24,480
Investigating the Impact of Diseases and Associated Factors on Yield
Principal Investigators: Sam Markell, North Dakota State University, Hans Kandel, North Dakota State University, Febina Mathew, South Dakota State University, and Bob Harveson, University of Nebraska, Scottsbluff.  
Project Objectives: Yield loss to sunflower diseases cause economic stress to sunflower growers across the United States.  However, the amount of yield loss caused by many diseases (locally and nationally) is not well understood. Additional factors considered by growers who are trying to protect yield, such as the effect of hail on disease development and yield impacts from ‘plant health’ fungicide applications, are also not well understood. This research will give us a better understanding of the yield impacts of diseases and disease-related factors and will lead to better disease management recommendations. This should translate into increased economic returns to sunflower growers.         
Funded Amount: $25,500
Sunflower Nectar Volume: Impact on Pollinator Choice and Genetic Determination 
Principal Investigators: Jarrad Prasifka USDA ARS and Brent Hulke USDA ARS
Project Objectives: This project will phenotype nectar production for an inbred population, HA 434 × HA 456, segregating for nectar volume and other floral traits. This phenotypic data will be used to map gene(s) controlling nectar volume in cultivated sunflower. It will also include field observations to model how nectar access, nectar volume, and other traits influence bee visitation to sunflowers. This work will measure the value of pollinators to sunflowers, understand how bees choose to visit (or not visit) specific sunflower genotypes, and provide tools that permit simplified breeding for pollinators
Funded Amount: $35,000
Evaluate New Insecticides for Wireworm Control in Sunflower
Principal Investigator: Janet Knodel, North Dakota State University.
Project Objectives: Wireworms continue to increase in importance as a major pest of sunflowers due to the lack of neonicotinoid insecticide seed treatments killing the wireworms. The objectives of this project are to compare standard sunflower insecticide treatments to the new insecticide products for management of wireworms in sunflowers: determine the economic costs and benefits of using these insecticide treatments to establish their overall impact on profitability of sunflower production and produce a NDSU Extension publication and short YouTube Video (3 minutes) on wireworms to communicate results of the research to producers.
Funded Amount: $12,000
Evaluate the Distribution of Red Sunflower Seed Weevil Populations that are Resistant to Pyrethroid Class Insecticides
Principal Investigators: Adam Varenhorst, South Dakota State University, Patrick Wagner South Dakota State University, Philip Rozeboom, South Dakota State University, and Janet Knodel, North Dakota State University.
Project Objectives: In South Dakota, the red sunflower seed weevil is a major insect pest of sunflowers each year. As a result, insecticides are used to prevent yield loss. There is some thought that pyrethroid insecticides with the active ingredient lambda-cyhalothrin have seen reduced control compared to treatments that contained other active ingredients. This project will allow researchers to evaluate numerous insecticides through efficacy trials and glass vial assays, to determine if there are pyrethroid resistant red sunflower seed weevils in North Dakota and South Dakota. It will also provide more accurate management recommendations to farmers. The South Dakota Oilseeds Council provided $10,000 of check-off dollars towards this project.
Funded Amount: $25,000
Influence of Rainfall on the Timing and Efficacy of PRE/POST Soil Residual Herbicides for Control of Herbicide-Resistant Kochia and Palmer Amaranth
Principal Investigators: Nevin Lawrence, Cody Creech, UNL Extension, John Spring, CSU Extension, Vipan Kumar and Jeanne Falk Jones, KSU  
Project Objectives: The primary goal of this study is to compare the longevity of PRE- applied herbicides options in sunflower and determine the optimal timing of Zidua for extending weed control. Based upon study results, growers will be better equipped to predict the longevity of PRE- applied herbicides and determine how soon after planting Zidua should be applied with the goal of achieving near 100% weed control early in the season. As certain PRE- herbicide options are more effected by poor soil moisture at application, sunflower growers will be able to better determine which herbicide options are best given their environment and the cost of herbicides. The Kansas Sunflower Commission provided $5,000 of check-off dollars towards this project.
Funded Amount: $32,500
Evaluation of Sunflower Tolerance to Fall Applied Herbicides
Principal Investigators: Brian Jenks and Caleb Dalley, NDSU
Project Objectives: This project will determine if fall-applied 2,4-D and dicamba will injure spring planted crops.  If no injury occurs, and after further testing, the data would be shared with chemical companies to consider a label change.  If safe to use, these herbicides would provide another legal option for growers to control specific weeds in the fall when they are easier to control.  
Funded Amount: $5,000
Early Maturing Sunflower for Double Crop Use in the Central Plains
Principal Investigators: Brent Hulke USDA ARS
Project Objectives: Double cropping has become a popular concept in the Central Plains to avoid loss of productivity and soil degradation that is characteristic of the traditional winter wheat-fallow rotations. Under no-till management, there is often enough residual soil moisture to allow for production of a second crop in the same season. This project will increase the availability and diversity of parental lines with early maturity and adaptation to various climates providing commercial breeding companies and seed producers with an excellent starting point to come to market with hybrids suitable for double crop scenarios. The research will provide both seeds and data that can help to expand sunflower double crop acreage in the Central Plains and beyond, and provide more resources to continue breeding work. 
Funded Amount: $19,778
Identification and Mapping of Genetic Factors Affecting the Stability of Oleic Acid in Inbred Lines and Hybrids
Principal Investigators: Brent Hulke and Qing Ming Gao, USDA ARS
Project Objectives: Fatty acid composition has been the key to oilseed sunflower marketing success.This project will deliver suitable markers for sunflower breeders to predict oleic acid level in NuSun and HO hybrids, and provide valuable information for selecting breeding lines with stable oleic acid content. This knowledge will benefit breeders, by improving predictability of hybrid product performance, and producers, by reducing the uncertainty of oleic composition in newly developed high oleic hybrids. 
Funded Amount: $24,260
Assessing the Importance of Plant Spacing Heterogeneity (skips, doubles, gaps) on Yield, and Heritability of Seedling Emergence in Field Conditions
Principal Investigator: Brent Hulke, USDA-ARS, Ron Meyer Colorado State University and Calvin Trostle, Texas A&M University
Project Objectives: Plant spacing has become a topic of interest in the sunflower industry, especially the effects of skips, doubles, and gaps that often occur because of errors in calibrating planting machinery, inherent flaws in machinery, issues of speed, and seedling insect/disease issues. This project will objectively pick apart the effects of stand heterogeneity and stand gaps on yield. It will also help determine the degree of genetic variation in days to emergence and early plant vigor in the field.
Funded Amount: $35,690
2019 NSA Sunflower Production Survey 
Principal Investigators: Ryan Buetow, North Dakota State University, Febina MathewSouth Dakota State University, and Jarrad Prasifka, USDA ARS
Project Objectives: The survey is conducted bi-yearly prior to harvest. Volunteers from all levels of the sunflower industry visit sunflower fields to survey crop conditions. Teams survey for yield and production practices, weeds, insects, diseases and bird damage.The survey will be conducted in the states of ND, MN, SD, KS, NE, TX, and CO. Manitoba, Canada will also be included. Survey data helps guide the NSA Research Committee in setting research priorities. 
Funded Amount: $11,000
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