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NSA 2017 Research Funding Summary

Wednesday, March 29, 2017
filed under: Research and Development

       Since its beginning, the National Sunflower Association has committed itself to providing funds to public researchers in order to stimulate new — or to continue with ongoing — sunflower research that leads to disease- and pest-tolerant hybrids, better cropping practices and ways to reduce production costs.  This commitment to research resulted in the development of NuSun® sunflower, and we would not have Clearfield® or Express® ’flowers without it, to cite just a couple examples.
       Research is mainly funded with checkoff monies from Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota and the Dakotas.  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 as well.  These committee funds come from sunflower industry members not included in the checkoff.
       The NSA Board of Directors met in late February and approved more than $370,900 in research projects for 2017 — about $50,000 above the 2016 level. Below are brief descriptions of projects that were funded this year.
       There is always risk in growing any crop.  As an industry we need to constantly look for ways to increase profitability to sunflower producers by mitigating risk and make producing sunflower easier, to keep producers interested in the crop. Investing in research that provides innovation, opportunity and productivity will always be the cornerstone of the National Sunflower Association to achieve this goal.
— John Sandbakken, NSA Executive Director
Evaluation of Crop and Weed Species as Possible Hosts to the Pathogens Causing Phomopsis Stem Canker on Sunflower
Principal Investigators:
Sam Markell and Richard Zollinger, North Dakota State University; Febina Mathew, South Dakota State University
       Project Objectives: The objective of this study is to determine the host range of pathogen species causing Phomopsis stem canker in a ‘natural’ environment with the anticipation that Diaporthe/Phomopsis lesions will occur on multiple weed/crop hosts. Knowledge from this study will allow for improved crop rotation recommendations and the importance of weed/crop hosts that may be serving as a reservoir for the pathogens.
       Funded Amount: $16,500
Predicting Phomopsis Stem Canker on Sunflower
Principal Investigators:
Febina Mathew, South Dakota State University;
Sam Markell, North Dakota State University;
Bob Harveson, University of Nebraska, Scottsbluff 
       Project Objectives: This study should provide information on when spores are released by the Phomopsis stem canker pathogens (P. helianthi and P. gulyae) and when they initiate the disease development. This information will help develop a robust disease forecasting system using the data obtained and will provide recommendations to sunflower producers in the region to manage Phomopsis stem canker.
       Funded Amount: $30,686
Applying Genomic Tools to Accelerate Breeding for Disease Resistance in Confection Sunflower
Principal Investigators:
Lili Qi and Guojia Ma, USDA-ARS
       Project Objectives: Downy mildew (DM) and rust are important causes of yield loss in confection sunflower.  Unfortunately, no resistant germplasm or commercial hybrids are available in confection sunflower. The objectives of this proposed project are to incorporate DM resistance into confection sunflower, and to pyramid DM and rust resistance genes in a single genetic background. The confection germplasms with DM resistance combined with rust resistance will be provided to the private seed industry for incorporation into finished hybrids.
       Funded Amount: $113,496
Quantification of Yield Loss from
Rhizopus Head Rot in Sunflower
Principal Investigators:
Bob Harveson, University of Nebraska, Scottsbluff;
Febina Mathew, South Dakota State University;
Sam Markell, North Dakota State University 
       Project Objectives: To effectively evaluate future screening of sunflower lines for resistance, or the positive effects of fungicide applications, it is important to determine and understand the negative implications of Rhizopus infection on yield reductions.  This project will induce disease and document the extent of potential damage to both oil and confection sunflower production under field conditions from multiple geographically and environmentally different locations within sunflower production areas of the Great Plains.  
       Funded Amount: $18,000
Efficacy and Economics of Insecticide Seed
Treatments for Management of Wireworms and
Seed Corn Maggots in Sunflower
Principal Investigators:
Adam Varenhorst, South Dakota State University;
Janet Knodel, North Dakota State University;
J.P. Michaud, Kansas State University
       Project Objectives:  Wireworms and seed corn maggots are occasional pests of sunflower; but when present they can significantly reduce stands and diminish crop production. In certain locations, other seed-feeding beetles called false wireworms can have equally devastating consequences to sunflower stands.  The effectiveness of insecticide against false wireworms has not been established. The results of this research have the potential to improve management of wireworms and other sunflower insects in areas where they are especially problematic and cause significant losses. The outcomes will include improved knowledge of insecticide efficacy in controlling target pests and analysis of the net economic benefits to sunflower producers.
       Funded Amount: $40,000
Use of Thermal Imaging in Sunflower Phenomics
Principal Investigators:
Loren Rieseberg and Ivana Imerovski, University of British Columbia
       Project Objectives: The objectives of this project are to investigate the precision and reproducibility of thermal imaging for assessing and quantifying disease severity in sunflower (namely identification of pre-symptomatic areas, as well as quantifying the amount of tissue with wilting, chlorosis and necrosis) in controlled conditions; and examine its utility in detecting and quantifying disease symptoms in different plant organs (i.e., leaf, stem and head); and test the efficacy of thermal imaging technology in field conditions.
       Funded Amount: $30,000
Inheritance and Mapping of Sunflower Insect Resistance Traits
Principal Investigators:
Jarrad Prasifka and Brent Hulke, USDA-ARS
       Project Objectives: The insects which pose the greatest risk to quantity and quality of yield in North America are seed-feeders, including the red sunflower seed weevil, sunflower moth and banded sunflower moth. Any of these insects can produce losses of 20% or more without management. This project will characterize the inheritance and map genes determining resistance to red sunflower seed weevil conferred by PI 431542 using artificial infestations of adult weevils in a replicated field trial. It will also continue to evaluate and develop physical and chemical traits which may limit damage of floret-feeding insects such as banded sunflower moth and sunflower moth.
       Funded Amount: $15,672
Benefits of Insect Pollination to Confection Sunflower
Principal Investigators:
Jarrad Prasifka and Rachel E. Mallinger, USDA-ARS
       Project Objectives: Recent studies showed that insect pollination increased sunflower yields substantially, though benefits varied across cultivars, regions and years. Most pollination studies have been conducted on oilseed sunflower or in hybrid seed production, while confection sunflowers are relatively understudied.  Understanding the degree to which modern confection hybrids are dependent on insect pollination is important for both crop management as well as future plant breeding efforts. The investigators will evaluate the benefit of insect pollination for yield, center seedset and efficacy of different insect pollinators of modern confection sunflower across growing regions and years.
       Funded Amount: $17,900
Insecticide Effectiveness for Texas-Kansas
Sunflower Moth Control
Principal Investigators:
Calvin Trostle, Texas A&M University,
and Ron Meyer, Colorado State University
       Project Objectives: Sunflower moth remains the primary pest for a majority of Texas and Kansas sunflower acres and for other areas of the Southern High Plains.  Though effective sunflower moth control is generally obtained, control failures due to misapplication, poor timing or insufficient understanding of chemical mode of action are highly damaging to sunflower.  Newer chemistries are now available which have limited testing beyond the research and development stage. This work will determine effectiveness of chlorantraniliprole and flubendiamide in sunflower moth control compared to pyrethroids The results will provide data on sunflower moth control to determine appropriate recommendations for these products. 
       Funded Amount: $20,000
Identifying and Mapping Modifiers of High-Oleic and
High-Oleic, Low-Saturated-Fatty-Acid Composition
Principal Investigators:
Brent Hulke and Qing Ming Gao, USDA-ARS
       Project Objectives: Fatty acid composition has been the key to oilseed sunflower marketing success.  The transition from traditional, linoleic oil to NuSun (mid-oleic) composition happened quickly, and oil buyers quickly latched on to the new oil. With the industry transitioning to high-oleic sunflower oil, breeding for stable fatty acid composition can be a problem facing a breeder working in oilseed sunflower — especially if the goal is a marketable high-oleic type. This project will provide breeders with a marker set and elite germplasm with very high oleic acid and very low saturated fat for use in developing new hybrids.
       Funded Amount: $28,845
Efficacy of an Avian Repellent (AV-4044)
Applied to Sunflower Using Drop Nozzle-Equipped
Ground Rigs in Reducing Blackbird Damage
Principal Investigator:
Page Klug, USDA-APHIS-Wildlife Services
       Project Objectives: This project will evaluate efficacy of AV-4044 an AQ-based repellent (Arkion™ Life Sciences, LLC) when applied with drop nozzle technology (360 Yield Center, 360 Undercover®) to the face of ripening sunflower in a semi-natural field experiment. The study objectives include evaluation of drop nozzle technology for applying repellent to sunflower, AQ residues on achene and disk flowers after application and before harvest, and efficacy based on damage and sunflower yield incorporating enclosed birds.
       Funded Amount: $25,067
2017 NSA Sunflower Production Survey
Principal Investigators:
Tom Gulya, USDA-ARS (retired); Febina Mathew,
South Dakota State University; Ryan Buetow, North Dakota
State University; Jarrad Prasifka, USDA-ARS
       Project Objectives: The survey is conducted bi-annually prior to harvest. Volunteers from all levels of the sunflower industry visit sunflower fields to survey crop conditions. Teams survey for yield and production practices, weeds, insects, diseases and bird damage. The survey will be conducted in North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas and Colorado. Manitoba, Canada, will also be included. Survey data help guide the NSA Research Committee in setting research priorities.
       Funded Amount: $14,750                  
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