Article Archives
Pathologists Form Working Group, Seek Input

Monday, January 6, 2014
filed under: Research and Development

Sunflower is an enormously important crop economically in the U.S., being grown on approximately 2.2 million acres annually. The vast majority of this crop is produced throughout the Great Plains states ranging from Texas in the south to North Dakota in the north. As this region is the presumed origin of sunflower, the diseases affecting this plant are also endemically found occurring here as well. According to several recent National Sunflower Association surveys, disease has been determined to be the most significant biological yield-limiting factor for sunflower production in North America.

Unfortunately, there currently is a lack of pathology-related references and/or extension-based literature available to assist producers, consultants and seed/chemical company personnel — particularly for accurately distinguishing diseases or identifying sustainable and sound management strategies. As a result, economic losses continue to be incurred due to confusion and misidentification of diseases. This problem is further illustrated with the universally read and arguably most influential publications produced by the American Phytopathological Society — the disease compendium series. The diseases known for almost every crop that is grown in the world are represented by one of these references guides; but amazingly, one does not exist for sunflower.

In an effort to counteract these issues, we have successfully established a “sunflower working group,” funded through a North Central Region – Integrated Pest Management (NCIPM) Center grant ( This working group consists of USDA personnel and university extension pathologists from sunflower-producing states, primarily in the U. S. Plains region.

Our goals as a group are to help design and facilitate disease-management strategies by: (1) identifying the greatest disease and IPM needs with stakeholder input and then addressing those needs by publishing region-wide extension-related disease identification guides, diagnostic guides, and/or IPM disease management guides; (2) editing and writing the comprehensive but more technical publication, the APS sunflower disease compendium; and (3) creating a network of part-time sunflower pathologists who will work in concert together to develop and publish regional IPM related material.

One of the first activities for this group will be to identify the greatest needs for information relating to disease identification and IPM decision making. Similarly, we want to determine the most useful way to deliver that information. We would like your help in this process, and with the help of the National Sunflower Association, we are distributing an online survey that will help us determine priorities.

The direct link to the survey is available here . Also, the link will be emailed to the NSA list serve in January.

For more information please contact Sam Markell at North Dakota State University at: or Bob Harveson at

Thank you for your help!
return to top of page

   More about Sunflower ►