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Get a Jump on 2001 Hybrid Selection

Sunday, October 1, 2000
filed under: Planting Systems

Profitable sunflower production the last few years might be summed

up by the following equation: cash price + LDP - cost of production +

oil premium (and NuSun premium) = profit. That is, sell a certain number

of pounds per acre and lock in a good LDP to cover production costs.

Profit comes from the oil and/or NuSun premiums.

This equation will certainly be at the heart of hybrid selection for the

2001 growing season, says Jerry Miller, research geneticist at the

USDA-ARS Northern Crop Science Lab, Fargo, N.D.

Hybrid performance (yield potential, oil content, maturity, stalk

strength, and pest tolerance or resistance) and production conditions

this year will serve as a guide for seed companies to determine what

hybrids to sell/resell in 2001, and for producers, what hybrids to grow.

Evaluate as much performance information as possible, advises Kathleen

Grady, South Dakota State University oilseed breeder. Yield trial

results from university experiment stations, commercial company trials,

strip tests, and demonstration plots will identify hybrids that are

consistently high yielding, she says. Give more weight to information

from trials or fields close to home, and compare relative performance

over many locations and years. Compare as many trials as possible, since

it is unlikely that environmental conditions of any particular test will

be repeated in any future year.

Aside from agronomic considerations, there will be cases where

availability of seed or an outlet to sell the harvested crop will

dictate selection of hybrid type. Miller points to one N.D. producer

this year whose oil sunflower acreage was half conventional hybrids,

half NuSun. "His local elevator started buying NuSun for the first time.

If that elevator wouldn't have bought the crop or offered a premium, I

don't think that grower would have planted NuSun this year," he says.

Fact is, however, that most country elevators in sunflower-producing

areas are buying NuSun, and have become equipped with refractometers to

test whether sunflower is NuSun or traditional linoleic when harvested

seed is hauled in.

About 50 million pounds of NuSun were produced in 1998, the first year

of commercial production, and supplies are expected to exceed 700-800

million pounds following the 2000 crop year. Industry experts say that

while NuSun accounts for about one-third of oil sunflower acreage this

year, it will be over half and as much as two-thirds of the crop in 2001

(see chart on page 10).

Hybrid Selection Checklist

Courtesy of Miller, Grady, and several of the region's top private

sunflower breeders, here are a few notes to keep in mind as you go

through the checklist in reviewing hybrid performance this year, and in

selecting hybrids for next year.

Yield - Performance averaged over many tests is called "yield

stability." Good yield stability means that a hybrid may or may not be

the best yielder at all locations, but that it does rank high in

yielding potential at many locations. A hybrid that ranks in the upper

20% at all locations exhibits better yield stability than one that is

the top yielder at two locations, but ranks in the lower 40% at two

other locations.

Public and private breeders alike say that many NuSun hybrids are

yielding similarly to most conventional oil hybrids, and will only

improve as NuSun hybrids continue to be developed. In the event your

NuSun hybrid didn't yield as well as your conventional oil hybrid this

year, then shop around for a different NuSun hybrid.

Oil Content/Composition - Select a high-oil hybrid over a low -oil

hybrid with the same yield potential, but don't sacrifice yield in favor

of oil content. The oilseed sunflower market pays a premium based on

market price for over 40% oil (at 10% moisture) and discounts for oil

less than 40%.

Some companies offer guarantees for NuSun oleic levels. As NuSun hybrid

performance data builds each year, be certain to evaluate dependability

or consistency of oleic levels for different NuSun hybrids.

Maturity- Be realistic of your expected planting date, and mindful of

the average killing frost in your area. Full-maturing hybrids generally

yield higher than early hybrids. Maturity is especially important if

planting is delayed. Often, with delayed planting, only an early hybrid

will mature and exhibit its full yield potential. Yield, oil content,

and test weight often are reduced when a hybrid is damaged by frost

before it is fully mature. An earlier hybrid will likely be drier at

harvest than a later hybrid, thus reducing drying costs. Consider

planting hybrids with different maturity dates as a production hedge to

spread risk, drydown and workload.

Moisture Content -Harvesting sunflower at moisture contents as high as

20-25% may reduce bird damage and seed shattering loss during harvest.

Seed must then be dried to 9.5% or less for storage.

Disease Tolerance -The most economical and effective means of sunflower

disease control is the planting of resistant or tolerant hybrids and a

minimum of four years rotation between successive sunflower crops.

Most sunflower hybrids in the United States have resistance to

Verticillium wilt, races 1 and 2 of downy mildew, and to two or more

races of rust. Consult the seed company for information on the reaction

of a particular hybrid to these and other diseases that may pose a risk

in your growing area.

Self-pollination (or self-compatibility), recommended to be at least

90%, is another trait to keep in mind. It refers to the ability of the

plant to pollinate itself despite unfavorable conditions for


Making Sense of the Statistics

"Expected mean" in plot trial information simply refers to the average

performance number for a particular trait of all hybrids evaluated in

the trial.

To determine if one hybrid is better than another for a given trait, use

the least significant difference value at the bottom of each data table,

often listed as LSD .05 or LSD 5%. This is a statistical way to

indicate if a trait like yield differs when comparing two hybrids. If

two hybrids differ by more than the indicated LSD 5% value for a given

trait, they would most likely differ again when grown under similar

conditions. If two hybrids differ by less than the LSD for a particular

trait, than there's no statistical difference.

For example, let's say a performance trial table indicates one hybrid

yielded 2,600 lbs/acre, compared to another hybrid in the same plot that

yielded 2,310 lbs/acre. If the LSD for this particular plot trial data

is 407 lbs/acre, there is no statistical difference in yield between the

two varieties. If the oil content percentage for one hybrid is 44

compared to 41 for another, and the LSD is 2.3, the first hybrid can be

expected to have a higher oil content than the second hybrid, under

similar growing conditions.

The coefficient of variability (C.V. %) listed at the bottom of each

data table is a relative measure of the amount of variation or

consistency recorded for a particular trait, expressed as a percentage

of the mean. Generally, trials with low C.V. rates are more reliable for

making hybrid choices than trials with higher C.V. rates. Trials with

C.V. rates below 15-20% are generally considered to be reliable for

comparing yield. - Tracy Sayler

- Calculating Sunflower Gross Revenue -

Use this worksheet to estimate and compare gross

revenue expected from conventional oil sunflower

and/or NuSun hybrids on the market for 2001.

Estimated Gross Revenue - Traditional Sunflower

Cash Return (CR) = Yield (lbs./acre) x cash price

Yield (lbs./acre) _____ x Cash price $______ = $ ______ CR

Oil Premium (OP) = Oil % over 40 (base) x 2% x CR

Oil %_____ - 40 = _____ x 2 % x CR______ = $ _____ OP

Loan Deficiency Payment (LDP) = Yield (lbs./acre) x LDP

Yield (lbs./acre) _______ x LDP = $ _______LDP

Total Gross Revenue = $ _______

Estimated Gross Revenue - NuSun Sunflower

Cash Return (CR) = Yield (lbs./acre) x NuSun cash price

Yield (lbs./acre) _____ x NuSun cash price $_____ = $ _____ CR

Oil Premium (OP) = Oil % over 40 (base) x 2 % x CR

Oil %_____ - 40 = _____ x 2 % x CR_____ = $_____ OP

LDP = Yield (lbs./acre) x LDP

Yield (lbs./acre) _______ x LDP = $ _______ LDP

Total Gross Revenue = $ _______


* Using LDP and cash price at Enderlin, N.D., as of 10/15/00.

Estimated Gross Revenue - Traditional Sunflower

Cash Return (CR) = Yield (lbs./acre) x cash price (¢/lb.)

Yield (lbs./acre) 2,000 x Cash price $ .0555 = $ 111.00 CR

Oil Premium (OP) = Oil % over 40 (base) x 2% x CR

Oil % 45 - 40 = 5 x 2% x CR $ 111.00 = $ 11.10 OP

Loan Deficiency Payment (LDP) = Yield (lbs./acre) x LDP

Yield (lbs./acre) 2,000 x LDP $ 4.25 = $ 85.00 LDP

Total Gross Revenue = $ 207.10

Estimated Gross Revenue - NuSun Sunflower

Cash Return (CR) = Yield (lbs./acre) x NuSun cash price (¢/lb.)

Yield (lbs./acre) 2,000 x NuSun cash price $ .0615 = $ 123.00 CR

Oil Premium (OP) = Oil % over 40 (base) x 2 % x CR

Oil % 45 - 40 = 5 x 2 % x CR $ 123.00 = $ 12.30 OP

LDP = Yield (lbs./acre) x LDP

Yield (lbs./acre) 2,000 x LDP $ 4.25 = $85.00 LDP

Total Gross Revenue = $ 220.30

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