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Selecting Hullers

Monday, February 3, 2003
filed under: Hybrid Selection/Planting

Dual purpose NuSun hybrids—suited for the de-hull kernel market or for crushing—have become popular with sunflower growers, simply because it gives them more market choices. Depending on crop quality and price, growers can opt to sell acceptable hullers to confection processors, who remove the hulls and sell the kernels both domestically and overseas. If the crop doesn’t make specifications for the hulling market, growers sell it to crushers or into the bird food markets.

Seed companies are developing more of these “switch-hitting” hybrids. But which offer the best performance?

To answer that, the National Sunflower Association—in cooperation with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Red River Commodities, and Dahlgren—evaluated a number of popular hullers grown in seven locations from North Dakota to Kansas.

The seed sizing analysis is provided in the table. “Seed size is the first criteria that all processors review. Other factors such as hulling ease, performance and efficiency depends on growing conditions, plant capabilities, crop conditioning and other variables that make rating each hybrid from one test nearly impossible,” says Bob Majkrzak, president and CEO of Red River Commodities, Fargo, N.D. “A grower should check with processors that he would consider as markets, and ask about the hybrids they prefer to work with for hulling.”

Bear in mind that the seed sizing analysis is based on only one year of tests. As well, seed size performance can vary by location; one hybrid which performs well in one location may be average in another location, depending on growing conditions.

Look at hullers that have the best potential on your farm, advises the NSA’s Max Dietrich. “Yield potential is still the number one priority. It may be better to choose a hybrid that rates as an average huller but yields 200 lbs. more than an excellent huller. And don’t overlook oil either. If you don’t make hulling, you want to have good oil content.”

“What this analysis does is narrow the hulling list down to what is acceptable,” says Majkrzak. “If you want to grow for the hulling market, commit to managing the crop in a confection-like manner. For example, don’t unload the huller in one 30,000-bushel bin and top it off with 5,000 bushels of another hybrid. When you grow for hulling, you are growing something going to the human food marketplace. Growers who decide right off the bat to grow for the hulling market are almost always the most successful in selling hullers.” – Tracy Sayler

Germany Dominates Kernel Market

U.S. exports of kernel increased by 21% in the 2001/02 marketing year, from 55,711 metric tons to 67,524 MT. Europe dominates the U.S. kernel (without the hull) market, taking nearly 85% of total U.S. exports. Germany is by far the dominant player, taking 53% of total U.S. exports at 35,523 MT.

Most of the sunflower kernel in this mature market is used in an assortment of breads. This demand has developed in a “hulling market” for U.S. oil-type sunflower growers. Often this market pays a premium over the oil market, with certain varieties preferred for hulling. Seed size, test weight and insect damage are key quality elements. All of the hulling varieties can also be marketed into the crush or bird food markets.
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