2021 NSA Research Priorities
The National Sunflower Association (NSA) provides grants to public researchers to stimulate new or additional work that may result in lower production costs, increased quality and higher yields. The NSA does not allow for any overhead or indirect costs to be removed from the grant awards.

Resolving Sclerotinia continues to be a high priority. Grant requests for this disease must be directed to the National Sclerotinia Initiative. Please go to their site for details or email mike.grusak@ars.usda.gov. There is a concentrated research effort in this disease from wild accessions to fungicide trials and everything in between. Researchers are urged to consider additional or new directions in Sclerotinia sunflower research.

The 2021 Research Priorities list below specifies ‘areas of interest' outlined by the NSA research committee. This is not an exclusive list and all production areas of research were considered by the committee. 
2021 NSA Research Priorities
(NOT listed in order or priority)
Production Issues
  1. Improve genetic progress in sunflower to enhance competitiveness with other crops and stability of yield and quality, using SNPs or other genomic tools.
  2. Blackbirds:  Innovative and new approaches to reduce damage, especially discovery of repellents and or changes to plant physical characteristics. 
  3. Factors related to achieving an adequate plant stand.  This could include early season sunflower plant screening for stand, seeding depth, seed to soil closure and contact, soil temperature/moisture, seedling vigor, seed biology, insects/diseases and interactions.  
  4. Methods, techniques, or equipment for applying fungicides for control of diseases and enhance yield.  Issues of timing and tank mixing fungicides with insecticides/herbicides are of interest.  There is also a need for efficacy studies for using adjuvants with labeled and newer not labeled fungicides.  
  5. Development of management strategies to address emerging soil issues such as tolerance to saline/sodic soils and possible effects of low pH soils. 
  1. Evaluation of IPM strategies (scouting, trapping, thresholds, insecticide testing especially new Mode of Actions, cultural, biological) for control of economically important insect pests of sunflowers including: sunflower head moth, banded sunflower moth, red sunflower seed weevil, Lygus bug, Dectes stem borer, wireworm and others. 
  2. Screen suspected insecticide resistance for economically important insect pests of sunflower.
  3. Screen hybrid and breeding material for insect resistance. 
  4. Study the direct and secondary benefits of pollinators including honeybees and native bees in sunflower production.
  5. Determine the economic costs and benefits of using pesticide seed treatments and application innovations to control wireworms and cutworms. 
  1. Innovative weed control strategies using older and new chemistries to address palmer amaranth, horseweed (marestail), ragweed, waterhemp, barnyard grass and glyphosate resistant kochia, pre/burn-down and/or post emerge. 
  2. Encourage research for new desiccant active ingredients. 
  3. Weed species shifts, due to resistance/tolerance to common modes of action need to be considered for burn-down uses, as well as existing post systems like Clearfield® and Express®Sun.  This priority could include burn-down product safe planting interval definition for all effective herbicides, including older products like 2,4-D, as well as preservation and MOA resistance management for the post-emerge Group #1 grass products.  Group #1 additive strategies might include pre-plant, pre (and/or) early post application of non-group #1 MOA’s.  Foxtail, brome species and non-Group #1 wild oat options need to be better defined and demonstrated for sunflower producers.
  4. Interest in innovative weed control techniques related to existing labels and to test experimental or new-to-market herbicides and use of weed seed free cover crops for potential sunflower application.  More research may need a fall applied timing data & demonstration focus, vs. current spring season only weed control, to reduce spring emerging populations. Fall herbicide timings, both residual products and burn-down chemistry, might enhance control compared to standard spring/summer only, strategies. 
  5. Group 15 efficacy demonstrations including improving pigweed species control and how mode of actions used in sunflower can benefit rotation crops such as wheat and corn. 
  1. Phomopsis stem canker is the #1 disease priority for the National Sunflower Association.  Proposals aimed at improving (or leading to the improvement) of disease management tools are strongly encouraged. Additionally, collaboration with other commodity groups (such as soybeans) are encouraged. Recommendations include, but are not limited to: 
    a. Epidemiology, biology and etiology of pathogen (s)
    b. Fungicides or biological control
    c. Genetics of the pathogen and/or host leading to host resistance
    d. A better understanding of the economic impact of the disease
  2.  Rust including identifying races and the control of rust via genetic resistance and fungicide application.
  3. There is continued interest in downy mildew with the development of new races and fungicide efficacy.  Proposals looking at genetic resistance along with seed treatments with multiple modes of action will be of interest.
  4. Rhizopus can be a concern after the head is damaged by insects, hail, or other damage. Determining if there are management strategies to reduce the impact of the disease is important for growers.
  5. Address emerging, economically important diseases affecting sunflower production through diagnosis and development of management strategies.
  6. Sclerotinia proposals should be directed to the National Sclerotinia Initiative.
Product Utilization
  1. Looking for novel compounds in seed that have intrinsic values. 
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