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You Are Here Sunflower Magazine > Sunflower Highlights

Sunflower Magazine

Sunflower Highlights
December 2009

NSA Director Dan Wiltse Dies in Farm Accident

National Sunflower Association board member Dan Wiltse passed away on October 22 in a combine accident on his farm. Wiltse, who farmed near Lisbon, N.D., had been on the NSA board since 2005.

“Dan was committed to agriculture,” states NSA Executive Director Larry Kleingartner. “He contributed greatly to NSA activities during his short time as a board member, and was most involved in attempting to minimize the impact of blackbird damage to sunflower and other crops. He was a tireless worker in that regard.” Then-Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer appointed Wiltse to the USDA National Wildlife Services Advisory Committee in 2007. As a committee member, he worked with other representatives impacted by wildlife damage, including airports, pilots, rural health centers and other crops.

“Dan also was instrumental in the NSA board purchasing new planting and harvesting equipment for the USDA-ARS Sunflower Research Unit,” Kleingartner adds. “The new equipment replaced a vastly outdated planter and combine.

“Dan was highly respected by those with whom he worked. His high energy and enthusiasm were infectious to those around him.”

Wiltse leaves his wife, three children and four grandchildren.

Furadan Gone as of End of December

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ruled that carbofuran, i.e., the insecticide known as Furadan®, will be banned as of December 31, 2009. The agency cited food and worker safety issues. FMC, the maker of carbofuran, voluntarily removed multiple crop uses from the label, leaving corn, potato and sunflower on the label. EPA decided to revoke all food tolerances rather than the normal re-registration process under FIFRA, the law that authorizes pesticide registration and regulation.

The National Sunflower Association, the National Potato Growers and the National Corn Growers Association, as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and all 50 state departments of agriculture were on record supporting the continued, but very limited, use of carbofuran where there are no alternative products. FMC intends a legal challenge of EPA’s decision to deny an administrative hearing.

Carbofuran is used to control stem weevil (Cylindrocopturus adspersus) in parts of Kansas and Colorado where the insect is at economic levels on an annual basis. The NSA has asked the EPA to continue the carbofuran label on sunflower until stem weevil genetic resistance becomes available.

NSA Funding Verticillium Research Position

At its June 2009 meeting, the National Sunflower Association Board of Directors voted to fund a research project to determine Verticillium VCG or races that may impact sunflower. Limited research has been conducted on this disease in the United States, and the NSA board agreed it was important to keep well ahead of a potential outbreak.

A postdoctoral scientist has been hired to conduct the work. The scientist has gained a great deal of experience studying potato Verticillium. In addition to identifying VCG (races), the scientist will be determining the aggressiveness of a representative sample of sunflower isolates from each VCG or race identified. The third objective is to develop a PCR marker for genetic resistance evaluation. The project will be coordinated by Dr. Sam Markell, North Dakota State University plant pathologist.

Disease isolates have been collected from throughout the U.S. as well as isolates from foreign locations.

Verticillium was identified in all U.S production states in the 2008 annual NSA crop survey, but findings were very limited in the 2009 survey. The disease is a major production concern in Argentina.

NSA Receives Rust Research Grant

The National Sunflower Association has received a grant totaling $70,389 to hire a postdoctoral scientist to work on breeding rust resistance in confection sunflower. The new hire will work under the guidance and direction of Dr. Lili Qi of the USDA-ARS Sunflower Research Unit, Fargo, N.D.

This will be the first time in nearly 25 years that the ARS Sunflower Research Unit has worked on a dedicated confection sunflower breeding project. The funding was made available via the North Dakota Department of Agriculture and USDA. The specific granting program was authorized in the 2007 farm bill for specialty crop utilization and research.

Sunflower Plant Physiologist Need Identified

A plant physiologist has been identified as a missing link at the Fargo, N.D.-based USDA-ARS Sunflower Research Unit. Private sector breeders have pointed out this gap at numerous customer focus groups.

For the past seven years, the unit’s focus has been to identify disease and insect resistance in wild species and then transfer that material into cultivated sunflower for eventual release to private sunflower breeders. A plant physiologist can play a vital role in determining the form of resistance to a particular insect or disease. With that understanding, the resistance factor may be further enhanced. In addition, plant physiology can play a key role in enhancing drought tolerance and other stresses such as saline tolerance.

The National Sunflower Association has urged USDA as well as state universities to add a plant physiologist position to fill this important sunflower research need.

2010 Research Forum January 13 & 14 in Fargo

The 2010 Sunflower Research Forum, sponsored by the National Sunflower Association, will take place on January 13 and 14 at the Ramada Plaza Suites in Fargo, N.D.

The popular annual event is open to all interested persons. Its purpose is to report on current and completed research, to promote discussion, and to foster creative thinking regarding issues affecting the sunflower crop and industry.

More information on the 2010 Sunflower Research Forum, including registration details, can be found on the NSA website:

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