2024 NSA Funded Research
The National Sunflower Association selected and funded the following research projects for the 2024 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. To increase the pool of financial resources, the sunflower industry also pitches in. The NSA Confection and High Plains committees contribute a portion of their funds to research projects.
2024 NSA-Funded Research Projects
Determining Fungicide Effectiveness to Manage Phomopsis Stem Canker

Principal Investigators: Febina Mathew, Sam Markell, and Karthika Mohan North Dakota State University, Bob Harveson, University of Nebraska, Scottsbluff, Megan McCaghey, University of Minnesota, and Peter Kovacs, South Dakota State University.   
Project Objectives: The objectives of this study are to evaluate effectiveness of fungicides as well as fungicide application timing for management of Phomopsis stem canker under field conditions in Minnesota, 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: $30,000

Quantification of Yield Loss from Rhizopus Head Rot in Sunflower

Principal Investigators: Bob Harveson, University of Nebraska, Scottsbluff, Sam Markell, Febina Mathew, Karthika Mohan North Dakota State University.
Project Objectives:  Rhizopus remains a prevalent disease in Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska. This project will allow researchers to induce disease in research plots to levels that will properly evaluate management experimentally with fungicides. It will also Identify whether any presently available fungicides would effectively manage this disease to maintain sustainable production  
Funded Amount: $15,000

Fungicide Resistance in Phomopsis

Principal Investigators: Febina Mathew, Sam Markell, Karthika Mohan, North Dakota State University, and Bob Harveson, University of Nebraska, Scottsbluff.
Project Objectives: Monitoring for potential fungicide resistance in the pathogens causing Phomopsis stem canker is critical to inform sunflower farmers about what options are currently available to them and what needs to be developed to manage the disease. The objective of this study is to determine the prevalence of QoI-resistant strains in the Diaporthe/Phomopsis fungi population.
Funded Amount: $19,916

Determination of rust (Puccinia helianthi) virulence in Northern Great Plains

Principal Investigators: Sam Markell, Febina Mathew, North Dakota State University, Brent Hulke, USDA, ARS and Bob Harveson, University of Nebraska, Scottsbluff.
Project Objectives: The objectives of this study are to determine the pathogen virulence (determine races) that occurs throughout the Northern and Central High Plains, and that knowledge will inform breeders (and pathologists and geneticists) and seed companies as they develop and/or market successful hybrids. In addition, a new ‘differential set’, which adequately represents the known rust resistance genes, will be developed, and can be used into the future. Lastly, a plant pathology graduate student will be educated as a sunflower pathologist.
Funded Amount: $24,974

Characterizing toxins produced by Phomopsis in sunflower

Principal Investigators: Febina Mathew, Sam Markell, Karthika Mohan, North Dakota State University, and Bob Harveson, University of Nebraska, Scottsbluff.
Project Objectives: Conventional breeding for resistance to disease causing organisms has been successful but may suffer from lack of genetic variability in cultivated sunflower varieties. Because phytotoxins play a role in disease development, these compounds can be used to accelerate screening genotypes for resistance to the causal fungi and compliment the conventional breeding methods. In pathosystems where toxins have been used for screening germplasm (such as bacteria and fungi), the strategy is based on the scientific evidence that the resistance of the host to toxins may be strongly correlated with the host resistance to the pathogens. Thus, information on the toxins produced by Phomopsis and its role in disease development is critical, since these compounds can be used as selective agents to screen varieties for improved disease resistance.
Funded Amount: $32,401

Evaluating Red Sunflower Seed Weevils for Pyrethroid Susceptibility

Principal Investigators: Adam Varenhorst, Patrick Wagner, Philip Rozeboom, Bradley McManus South Dakota State University and Janet Knodel, Patrick Beauzay, 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 collect RSSW adults from North and South Dakota and test them using a glass vial assay to determine their susceptibility to pyrethroid class insecticides including lambda-cyhalothrin, esfenvalerate and zeta-cypermethrin. In addition, researchers will evaluate the efficacy of currently labeled and also non-labeled foliar insecticides for RSSW and determine the flight capacity of adult RSSWs to determine the distribution of potential resistant populations. The South Dakota Oilseeds Council provided $15,000 of check-off dollars to match $30,000 provided by the NSA Confection Promotion Committee towards this project.
Funded Amount: $67,314

Assessment of Early Planting and Early Maturing Hybrids as Tools in Management of the Red Sunflower Seed Weevil in North and South Dakota

Principal Investigators: Jarrad Prasifka, USDA, ARS, Mike Ostlie, Kristin Simons, North Dakota State University, and Sam Ireland, Adam Varenhorst, Patrick Wagner, South Dakota State University.
Project Objectives: This project will assess effects of early planting and early maturing hybrids to provide more current, local data that supports grower decision making on planting times and seed weevil management. Damage by red sunflower seed weevils, yield, and quality (% oil) in oilseed sunflowers will be measured to determine if farmers could plant much earlier than is common in South Dakota and North Dakota without sustaining significant yield and or quality losses. The results could allow producers to choose to plant (and harvest) earlier or use earlier maturing hybrids to avoid yield losses from red seed weevil or other time-sensitive causes (e.g., lodging, birds). The South Dakota Oilseeds Council provided $15,000 of check-off dollars to towards this project.
Funded Amount: $40,560

Spring Weed Burndown Options for Sunflower

Principal Investigators: Brian Jenks, North Dakota State University.
Project Objectives: Evaluate crop tolerance and kochia control in sunflower with non-labeled burndown herbicides compared to current standards.  This study will determine the effectiveness of non-labeled herbicides for preplant/preemergence kochia control.  If these herbicides are effective and can be labeled, then they will provide farmers with another option to control glyphosate-resistant kochia prior to sunflower emergence. 
Funded Amount: $10,000

Late Fall and Early Spring Applications of Group 15 (Long Chain Fatty Acid Inhibitors) and Group 14 (PPO Inhibitors) for Control of Herbicide Resistant Weeds

Principal Investigators: Jeanne Falk Jones, Kansas State University and Ron Meyer, Colorado State University.
Project Objectives: Weed control continues to be a topic of challenge when discussing sunflower production in the High Plains and this research can help farmers understand how to ‘start clean’ and ‘stay clean’ throughout the season. This research will illustrate how late fall/early winter and early spring applications of tank mixes of Group 15 and Group 14 herbicides can provide early season control of kochia and Palmer amaranth.  This will result in weed-free conditions for sunflowers to be planted into for no-till fields.  This information will be communicated to farmers and agronomy professionals, to aid in season-long weed control in sunflowers production.
Funded Amount: $30,000

Importance of Hazing Duration for Repelling Blackbirds from Sunflower Fields

Principal Investigators: Timothy J. Greives, North Dakota State University and Page E. Klug, USDA, APHIS.
Project Objectives: The study will be conducted in commercial sunflower fields in North Dakota where flocks of blackbirds are actively foraging from August to October. It will evaluate efficacy of an avian repellent Methyl Anthranilate (MA) to disperse blackbird flocks when applied directly to sunflower via a spraying drone. Two UAS platforms will be used for this study: a precision agriculture spraying octocopter and a smaller quadcopter. The project will evaluate the behavioral response of blackbird flocks toward the drone and potential spray patterns of the drone. This work will develop the protocol for approaching and targeting sunflowers being consumed by blackbirds, and thus allow for effective spraying of MA under field conditions. 
Funded Amount: $35,570

Extending the USDA Sunflower Breeding Program

Principal Investigators: Brent Hulke USDA ARS, and Richard Horsley, North Dakota State University.  
Project Objectives: Expand evaluation of sunflower testcross hybrids to central South Dakota and continue double-crop trials in Kansas. Ensure continuity of the line development program for early- (i.e. double crop compatible) and mid-maturity (i.e. full season for the Dakotas) sunflower parental lines. Bring genomics assisted methods to both the early and mid-maturity programs. This project will allow USDA breeders to achieve faster genetic improvement for sunflower with more and earlier information on genetic potential. This combined with additional data from field trials should accelerate genetic progress, and the resulting lines and relevant data will be made available to the benefit of seed companies and producers.
Funded Amount: $128,374

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