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Highlights From the 2023 NSA Summer Seminar

Thursday, August 24, 2023
filed under: News

About 120 participants — growers, researchers, industry personnel and spouses — were in attendance for the 39th annual National Sunflower Association Summer Seminar, held in Spearfish, S.D., on June 27-29.
        Here we provide several photos from the 2023 Summer Seminar.  An update on the USDA-ARS unit was presented by geneticist Brent Hulke, with a summary of his talk appearing on pages 10 and 11.
        The 2024 NSA Summer Seminar is scheduled for June 25-27 in Duluth, Minn.  More information will be posted on the NSA website — — as it becomes available.
panel of presenters
Paul Knudsen of Global Harvest (left), Jon Purinton of Dakota AgSynergy (center) and Jordan Sauvageau of Red River Commodities (right) updated the Summer Seminar audience on the status of the wild bird feeding industry.  During the past few years, the birdfood sector has utilized roughly half of the U.S. sunflower crop, with the highest consumer feeding percentage being in the northeastern region of the country.  Knudsen said 35%-plus of his company’s total ingredient purchases are of sunflower (mainly oil-types), with sunflower, millet and milo making up more than 90% of their purchases. One of the industry’s growth challenges is to engage increasing numbers of younger consumers in the feeding of wild birds.
This group of enthusiastic salesmen was responsible for selling raffle tickets to NSA?Summer Seminar attendees during the annual Curt Stern Scholarship Fundraiser on June 27.  Shown left to right are:  Bob Weigel, FMC Corporation and current chair of the NSA Research Committee; John Sandbakken, NSA executive director; Clark Coleman, former NSA president and board chair; Tom Kirkmeyer, current NSA president; and Tom Dowdle, NSA board member and member of the Minnesota Sunflower Council.
     Raffle proceeds are utilized as scholarship funds for deserving university students who have a focus on sunflower.  More than $6,000 was raised during this year’s raffle.
     Curt Stern was a longtime sunflower industry promoter and prominent leader.  He passed away in 2005.
raffle ticket sellers
Tom Hance Tom Hance of Gordley Associates, NSA Washington representative since 1987, discussed key issues being addressed in the next farm bill, including the top priorities for sunflower producers.  See elsewhere in this issue for an article by Hance assessing the current status of the new farm bill and the prognosis for its completion.
Lori McGehee  NSA marketing consultant Lori McGehee updated her audience on current NSA promotional programs in key import nations, including Spain (in-shell), Mexico (in-shell), Canada (kernel and sunflower oil) and Japan (sun oil).  The effort incorporates trade servicing and educational materials, trade advertising, and consumer-direct campaigns such as billboards, radio and social media.
Curtis McCoy  Curtis McCoy, international trade specialist with USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, shared FAS’s role and relationship with the National Sunflower Association, including the resources and opportunities the agency has available to industry and producers.  NSA has had a partnership with FAS since 1981.  For program year 2023, that encompasses $1.35 million in market promotion funding.
David Horvath USDA-ARS plant physiologist David Horvath introduced his NSA Summer Seminar audience to an intriguing topic:  ‘Resource-Independent Weed-Induced Crop Yield Loss: A New Paradigm & New Challenges.’  The thesis for his talk was that while weeds reduce crop yield, they do so not by competing for resources such as nutrients, water and light, but rather because the weeds cause changes in the crop plants that prevent them from reaching their yield potential.  An article about this subject will appear in the October/November issue of The Sunflower.
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