2022 NSA Funded Research
The National Sunflower Association selected and funded the following research projects for the 2022 year. Funding was also in part possible due to the North Dakota Oilseeds Council, South Dakota Oilseeds Council, Colorado Sunflower Administrative Committee, Kansas Sunflower Commission, Minnesota Sunflower Council and the North Dakota State Board of Agricultural Research and Education.
2022 NSA-Funded Research Projects
Enhancing Rust Resistance in Confection Sunflower

Principal Investigators: Lili Qi, USDA ARS

Project Objectives: Rust is a growing threat to sunflower production worldwide, leading to losses in yield and seed quality. This project will apply cutting edge genetic and genomic approaches to characterize the genetic basis for rust resistance in sunflower. Project deliverables include new tools (i.e. diagnostic SNP markers) that will enable sunflower breeding programs across the US to more easily develop superior cultivars that are resistant to rust. These modern technologies and promising disease resistance materials will be transferred to stakeholders to accelerate confection sunflower breeding and incorporate into finished hybrids.

Funded Amount: $130,004
Host-Pathogen Interaction in Phomopsis helianthi Infection

Principal Investigators: Febina Mathew, South Dakota State University, Sam Markell, North Dakota State University, Bob Harveson, University of Nebraska, Scottsbluff, Sen Subramanian South Dakota State University and Brent Hulke USDA-ARS. 

Project Objectives: The objective of this study is to identify key differentially expressed genes during the interaction of sunflower with P. helianthi. The results of this study will pinpoint genes responsible for the disease resistance response in sunflower. This study will provide the best and most reliable resource yet for breeders to develop inbred lines and commercial hybrids with resistance to Phomopsis stem canker for farmers.
Funded Amount: $32,882
Determining Fungicide Effectiveness to Manage Phomopsis Stem Canker

Principal Investigators: Febina Mathew, South Dakota State University, Sam Markell, North Dakota State University, Bob Harveson, University of Nebraska, Scottsbluff and Megan McCaghey, University of Minnesota.  

Project Objectives: The objectives of this study are to evaluate effectiveness of fungicides as well as fungicide application timing for management of Phomopsis stem canker under field conditions in Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. If this research is successful, the effective fungicides determined from this study will be used for developing and providing fungicide recommendations to sunflower producers for managing Phomopsis stem canker.
Funded Amount: $37,882
Quantification of Yield Loss from Rhizopus Head Rot in Sunflower

Principal Investigators: Bob Harveson, University of Nebraska, Scottsbluff, Sam Markell, North Dakota State University and Febina Mathew, South Dakota State University. 

Project Objectives:  Rhizopus remains a prevalent disease in Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska. This project will allow researchers to induce disease in research plots to levels that will properly evaluate management experimentally with fungicides. It will also Identify whether any presently available fungicides would effectively manage this disease to maintain sustainable production  

Funded Amount: $12,000
Evaluating Red Sunflower Seed Weevils for Pyrethroid Susceptibility

Principal Investigators: Adam Varenhorst, South Dakota State University, Patrick Wagner South Dakota State University, Philip Rozeboom, South Dakota State University and Janet Knodel, North Dakota State University.

Project Objectives: In South Dakota, the red sunflower seed weevil is a major insect pest of sunflowers each year. As a result, insecticides are used to prevent yield loss. There is some thought that pyrethroid insecticides with the active ingredient lambda-cyhalothrin have seen reduced control compared to treatments that contained other active ingredients. This project will allow researchers to collect RSSW adults from North and South Dakota and test them using a glass vial assay to determine their susceptibility to pyrethroid class insecticides including lambda-cyhalothrin, esfenvalerate and zeta-cypermethrin. In addition, researchers will evaluate the efficacy of currently labeled and also non-labeled foliar insecticides for RSSW and determine the flight capacity of adult RSSWs to determine the distribution of potential resistant populations. The South Dakota Oilseeds Council provided $25,000 of check-off dollars towards this project.

Funded Amount: $45,000
Integrating Cover Crops and Residual Herbicides to Control Glyphosate Resistant Weeds in High Plains Sunflower Production
Principal Investigators: Vipan Kumar, K-State, Dan O’Brien K-State. Jeanne Falk Jones K-State, Nevin Lawrence, and Cody Creech, UNL Extension

Project Objectives:  Due to lack of effective control of glyphosate resistant (GR) kochia and Palmer amaranth populations, maintaining the overall profitability and sustainability of High Plains sunflower farms are at higher risk. This project will provide research-based information on the optimum spring termination timing of fall-planted cover crop to maximize cover crop biomass accumulation and its impacts on overall suppression (emergence, growth, reproduction, and soil seedbank depletion) of GR kochia and Palmer amaranth populations, soil water budget, soil health benefits, reduction in POST herbicide applications, and crop yields. The intent is to develop sustainable and profitable weed management systems by improving growers’ knowledge and understanding of cover crop management in sunflower-based cropping systems. An outcome of this project is also to enhance adoption of best management strategies for cover crop termination timing among sunflower producers.

Funded Amount: $32,000
Evaluating Group 15 Herbicide Efficacy on Pigweed Species in Sunflower

Principal Investigators: Quincy Law, Kirk Howatt and Joseph Ikley North Dakota State University.

Project Objectives: The objectives of this experiment are to determine the efficacy/influence of Group 15 herbicides, with and without sulfentrazone, on pigweed control, sunflower injury, sunflower yield, and pesticide residue. This research will demonstrate the efficacy of five Group 15 herbicides on multiple pigweed species, including three herbicides not currently labeled for use in sunflower. Further, it will test the influence of tank-mixing each of these herbicides with sulfentrazone. Should any of the three Group 15 herbicides not currently labeled for use in sunflower exhibit potential, we will have injury, yield, and residue data to encourage labeling that/those product(s) in sunflower.

Funded Amount: $23,529
Spring Weed Burndown Options for Sunflower

Principal Investigators: Brian Jenks, North Dakota State University.

Project Objectives: Evaluate crop tolerance and kochia control in sunflower with non-labeled burndown herbicides compared to current standards.  This study will determine the effectiveness of non-labeled herbicides for preplant/preemergence kochia control.  If these herbicides are effective and can be labeled, then they will provide farmers with another option to control glyphosate-resistant kochia prior to sunflower emergence. 

Funded Amount: $5,600
Efficacy of an Avian Repellent Applied via a Spraying Drone for Repelling Blackbirds from Sunflower Fields

Principal Investigators: Timothy J. Greives, North Dakota State University, Page E. Klug, USDA APHIS and Jessica L. Duttenhefner, North Dakota State University

Project Objectives: The study will be conducted in commercial sunflower fields in North Dakota where flocks of blackbirds are actively foraging from August to October. It will evaluate efficacy of an avian repellent Methyl Anthranilate (MA) to disperse blackbird flocks when applied directly to sunflower via a spraying drone. Two UAS platforms will be used for this study: a precision agriculture spraying octocopter and a smaller quadcopter. The project will evaluate the behavioral response of blackbird flocks toward the drone and potential spray patterns of the drone. This work will develop the protocol for approaching and targeting sunflowers being consumed by blackbirds, and thus allow for effective spraying of MA under field conditions. 

Funded Amount: $33,319
Extending the USDA Sunflower Breeding Program

Principal Investigators: Brent Hulke USDA ARS, and Richard Horsley, North Dakota State University. 

Project Objectives: Expand evaluation of sunflower testcross hybrids to central South Dakota and continue double-crop trials in Kansas. Ensure continuity of the line development program for early- (i.e. double crop compatible) and mid-maturity (i.e. full season for the Dakotas) sunflower parental lines. Bring genomics assisted methods to both the early and mid-maturity programs. This project will allow USDA breeders to achieve faster genetic improvement for sunflower with more and earlier information on genetic potential. This combined with additional data from field trials should accelerate genetic progress, and the resulting lines and relevant data will be made available to the benefit of seed companies and producers.

Funded Amount: $119,186
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