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Sunflower Briefs

Thursday, August 24, 2023
filed under: Sunflower Briefs

N.D. Sunflower Map Campaign Wins Award
        The North Dakota Sunflower Map Campaign was selected as the recipient of the Amplifier Award for Marketing Excellence, one of the annual North Dakota Governor’s Awards for Travel and Tourism.  The North Dakota Sunflower Map is a partnership between North Dakota Tourism and the National Sunflower Association.  Farmers across the state share their sunflower fields with visitors, and the map provides exact coordinates and updates on bloom stages.  The campaign's success led to adding branded sunflower seed mailboxes, and in 2022 it reached more than 220,000 people on social and generated over 15,000 website visits in a month.  The campaign also garnered 356 media instances and a total readership reach of 241 million.
Dowdle, Smude Elected to Minnesota Council
        Tom Dowdle was re-elected earlier this year to the Minnesota Sunflower Council.  Dowdle farms near Kennedy, Minn., growing oil sunflower as well as sugarbeets, spring wheat, malting barley and soybeans. Dowdle represents Region 1 on the Minnesota Sunflower Council.
        Tom Smude was elected to the Minnesota Sunflower Council, representing Region 2.  Smude farms near Pierz, Minn.  He grows oil sunflower as well as corn and soybeans.  In addition, he is a cattle producer raising finished steers and cow/calf pairs. Smude and his family also own and operate Smude Enterprises, manufacturers and marketers of Smude Sunflower Oil.
Barstow Recipient of 2023 Stern Scholarship
Ashley Barstow
Ashley Barstow
Ashley Barstow, a graduate student at North Dakota State University, is the 2023 winner of the Curtis Stern Memorial Scholarship, presented by the National Sunflower Association.  She was recognized with the award during the 2023 NSA?Summer Seminar in Spearfish, S.D., in late June.
        Barstow’s passion for developing resilient and high-yielding crops that can withstand future climate change and meet the demands of a growing population led her to pursue a master’s in plant sciences with a focus on plant breeding and genetics at North Dakota State University.  She is a graduate research assistant in the Sunflower Genetics Lab under Dr. Brent Hulke. While working in the Hulke Lab, her thesis goal is to develop a coreset of molecular genetic markers and identify haplotypes within the sunflower species Helianthus annuus to be used in the breeding program for future genomic selection efforts.

Early Breeder Monroe Hagen Passes Away
Monroe Hagen
Monroe Hagen
      A longtime member of the sunflower breeding community, Monroe Hagen, passed away this spring at age 91.  A North Dakota State University graduate, Hagen was hired in 1965 by Clark Dahlgren, founder of Dahlgren & Company, Crookston, Minn.
        After two years as a fieldman writing production contracts with farmers, in 1967 Hagen was asked by Dahlgren to begin working in sunflower breeding during a time when the fledgling industry was struggling with disease resistance and sound agronomics.  That was two years prior to French breeder Patrice Leclercq discovering cytoplasmic male sterility in sunflower. 
        Hagen “used to talk about how they made hybrids back in those early days using the two varieties Commander and Mingren, which were both highly self-incompatible,” recalls his son, Mike.  “They would self-pollinate plants from Commander and Mingren and manage to get enough seed from each variety to have a seed production field.  They would plant the field 50:50 with the selfed seed from each variety and then flood the field with honeybees.  [They] were able to obtain around 75% hybridity, which they felt was quite an accomplishment.”  During those first years, Hagen worked closely with University of Minnesota sunflower agronomist Robert Robinson and breeder Murray Kinman of Texas A&M.
        Hagen also operated a bee business, and for a decade starting in 1972, Dahlgren contracted with him for pollination of the company’s seed production fields.  As of 1980, that encompassed about 9,000 acres of seed production in the Crookston area.  However, insect and disease problems prompted removal of sunflower seed production to California.
        Hagen left Dahlgren in 1981 and established his own sunflower seed company.  He retired in 2006.
Paulson Chosen WS Supervisor of the Year
John Paulson
John Paulson

        North Dakota State Director John Paulson was awarded the Wildlife Services Supervisor of the Year by USDA-APHIS. Under his leadership, the North Dakota/South Dakota program has become increasingly diverse in dealing with conflicts ranging from coyote damage to livestock, beaver flooding and damage to property, blackbird damage to sunflower, urban ground squirrel damage to property, and wildlife hazards at airports and military installations.
         In 2022, Wildlife Services expanded its blackbird management assistance into South Dakota.  WS specialists provided assistance to landowners across 39 counties in the two states. 
        In addition to those diverse conflicts, Paulson also manages an effective aviation program in both Dakotas.  He serves on multiple advisory committees and is very focused on maintaining a safe and effective program.  Additionally, Paulson co-authored an article that was published in the Sept/Oct 2022 edition of the American Trapper, titled “So You Want to Be a USDA Wildlife Specialist?” as part of an effort to keep the national program growing with young new talent.
‘Getting It Right’ Confab Video Link Available
        If you missed this spring’s “2023 Getting-it-Right in Sunflower Production” video conference, you can access it online. Topics covered ranged from hybrid selection, what has been learned from the fall sunflower surveys, plant nutrient and soil management, to updates for weed, disease and insect management, combine fire prevention and sunflower marketing.
        The program was conducted by North Dakota State University Extension.  Recording and resources are available at Scroll to the conference video section and click the sunflower meeting link.  Each individual talk has its own video clip.  Additional publications and resources are available under the sunflower conference resources as well.
Always Welcome:  Your Story Suggestions
        With another production season now coming down the home stretch, the National Sunflower Association staff likewise has begun working toward the next publishing season of The Sunflower magazine. 
          “As always, our goal with the magazine is to provide news and articles of real interest and use to our readership — which consists mainly of sunflower producers around the U.S. and Canada,” says John Sandbakken, NSA executive director and magazine editor.   “Our ongoing objective is to provide information that our readers won't find elsewhere, and we always welcome readers’ suggestions for potential topics or persons to interview for articles.”  Prospective story ideas can be submitted to: .
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