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You Are Here Sunflower Magazine > Sunflower Briefs

Sunflower Magazine

Sunflower Briefs
April 2010

Three New NSA Board Members

Arnold Woodbury of Wyndmere N.D., was recently appointed to fill the unexpired term of Dan Wiltse on the National Sunflower Association Board of Directors. Wiltse died in a farm accident in October 2009. Woodbury farms with his son in Richland County.

Karl Esping of Lindsborg Kan., now represents the Kansas Sunflower Commission on the NSA board. He replaced Lance Russell. Esping farms in east central Kansas, using sunflower as a double crop after winter wheat.

Kevin Capistran, who farms near Crookston Minn., represents the newly formed Minnesota Sunflower Council on the NSA board. Capistran farms in partnership with his father. Along with sunflower, the Capistrans’ cropping mix includes wheat, soybean and sugarbeets.

NSA Summer Seminar Set for June 22-24

The National Sunflower Association’s 2010 Summer Seminar is scheduled at the Ramkota Inn, Bismarck N.D., on June 22-24. This annual event has become a popular opportunity for sunflower interest groups to gather and learn, socialize and do business.

The event begins Tuesday with the NSA Board of Directors meeting, registration and evening dinner and fundraiser. The educational agenda consists of keynote speakers on the morning of June 23 and short breakout sessions in the afternoon. Social events include the Curt Stern Scholarship fundraiser, river boat cruise, a western steak outing, and golf at one of the Midwest’s premier courses, Hawk Tree.

Summer Seminar registration details and hotel information will be available soon on the NSA website. Or, call the association’s Mandan, N.D., headquarters at (888) 718-7033.

NSA Board Approves Research Funding

The National Sunflower Association Board of Directors recently approved funding of 20 research projects in nine states totaling $425,000. The funded projects cover most insects, diseases (rust, Sclerotinia, Phomopsis, Verticillium, downy mildew), blackbirds, fertility and nitrogen uptake, irrigation, weed control, breeding genetics for salt tolerance and general agronomy in regions that are new to sunflower. Details on project titles and researchers can be found at

In addition, the NSA Board of Directors recently authorized spending up to $100,000 to sequence representative and diverse sunflower cultivars for SNP marker identification. Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) is increasingly becoming the genetic marker system of choice. While DNA markers have been used extensively for genetic analyses, SNP is a marker system that can differentiate individuals based on variations detected at the level of a single nucleotide base in the genome. Such variations are present in large abundance in the genomes of higher organisms, including plants. The NSA-funded sequenced cultivars will be in the public domain and available to public and private breeders.

Pedraza-Garcia Joins Seeds 2000 as Breeder

Fabio Pedraza-Garcia recently joined Seeds 2000 as plant breeder at the seed production and research company’s Breckenridge, Minn., headquarters. In this new role, he is responsible for the development of sunflower inbred lines for use in the commercial production of hybrids.

Pedraza-Garcia came to Seeds 2000 from North Dakota State University, where he worked as a graduate research assistant in the Plant Sciences Department. While there, he managed the barley laboratory, trained interns and graduate students in molecular marker analysis and mastered malting barley breeding procedures. Prior to that position, he was at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), where he made significant contributions in the development of molecular markers to be used in marker assisted breeding of dry beans.

Pedraza-Garcia is scheduled to receive his Ph.D in plant science from NDSU in May 2010. Previously, he earned an M.S. in agronomy from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2005. A native of Colombia, he earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from the National University of Colombia in 1995.

New Pannar Sunflower Research Center

The Pannar sunflower research program has moved into a new facility in Brookings, S.D., from its former location at Huron. The larger Brooking research center will accommodate Pannar’s growing commitment of providing advanced genetics to the region’s sunflower growers, the company states. The location is ideally situated to enhance collaboration with South Dakota State University and other national organizations.

“We are excited about our new sunflower breeding center,” says Pannar CEO Barry Brown. “It reinforces our commitment of providing sunflower customers with a pipeline of industry-leading genetics and disease-resistant packages.” The center includes office space and nearby nursery acres and associated infrastructure for sunflower breeding and product development. Sunflower breeder Dawn Gustafson and her staff are based at the new site.

The Brookings center will serve as the research hub for the company’s extensive yield trial testing program, which extends across more than a dozen sunflower-rich growing locations in the Dakotas. The center also will network with its globally linked breeding teams in South Africa and Argentina.

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