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Publisher — National Sunflower Association Editor — John Sandbakken NSA Communications Director — Sonia Mullally Contributing Writer/Editor — Don Lilleboe Advertising Manager — Lerrene Kroh The Sunflower is published six times per year by the National Sunflower Association, a farmer and industry organization working to improve the profitability of sunflower for all sectors. Farmer checkoff commissions/ councils in N.D., S.D., Minn., Kan., and Colo., make up NSA’s basic funding and governing structure. Assessments on volume in the oilseed and confection processing industries and the hybrid seed sector are key funding components as well. Other funding is from grants, including from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. Offices for The Sunflower are located at NSA headquarters, 2401 46th Ave. S.E., Ste. 206, Mandan, ND 58554. NSA & magazine phone number is (701) 328-5100; toll free (888) 718-7033. U.S. farmers raising 10 or more acres of sunflower, extension agents, and public researchers can receive The Sunflower at no charge. Others may subscribe at these rates: North American residents, US $15.00 for one year or US $40.00 for three years; overseas air mail, US $50.00 per year. Information in The Sunflower does not necessarily represent the views or policies of the National Sunflower Association. Nor does advertising in The Sunflower imply endorsement by the publisher. Current NSA officers and directors are: Chairman Don Schommer, Munich, N.D. President Tom Young, Onida, S.D. First Vice President Kevin Capistran, Crookston, Minn. Second Vice President Art Ridl, Dickinson, N.D. Secretary/Treasurer John Swanson, Mentor, Minn Directors Brad Bonhorst, Fort Pierre, S.D. Guy Christensen, Enderlin, N.D. Tim DeKrey, Steele, N.D. Tim Egeland, Crookston, Minn. Karl Esping, Lindsborg, Kan. Reginal Herman, Brinsmade, N.D. Kent McKay, Carpio, N.D. John McLean, West Fargo, N.D. Jeff Oberholtzer, Mohall, N.D. Ron Seidel, Meadow, S.D. Dean Sonnenberg, Fleming, Colo. Ben Vig, Sharon, N.D. Arnold Woodbury, Wyndmere, N.D. Leon Zimbelman, Keenesburg, Colo.

Executive Director John Sandbakken, Mandan, N.D.

THE SUNFLOWER  January 2012

Vol. 38 No. 1


January 2012

Page 5

Page 12

— FEATURES — Larry Kleingartner Bids NSA Adieu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Association’s longtime executive director retires

Volatility & Generally Weaker Prices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Markets see liquidation of long positions

2011 Crop Survey Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Summary of findings from annual multi-state field survey

Confection Seed Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Yes, it is all about the size — but it’s not all that simple, either

Choices Abound . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Among today’s options in sunflower seed snack flavors

Building New Hybrids: Opportunities & Challenges . . . . . . 18 Commercial sunflower breeders answer questions

Getting a Handle on Phomopsis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 A look at this disease and how it is being addressed

Fungicides & Phomopsis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Update on field trials in North Dakota

Groundbreaking Sun Oil Being Introduced . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Omega-9, developed by Dow AgroSciences

Spudniks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Canadian company takes potato chips in new direction

Sunflower Briefs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 30 Years Ago in The Sunflower . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 COVER — Photo: Don Lilleboe 3

Sunflower Briefs Crop Insurance Change for 2012 Last year, the National Sunflower Association asked the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) to allow optional units by the type of sunflower. In the past, sunflower producers who grew both oil and nonoil sunflower in the same unit had their production combined when determining indemnity in case of a loss. The NSA considered it unfair to combine the two crops when producers pay separate premiums and use different price elections. Each sunflower type has its specific yield history and is sold into different markets. RMA took these factors into consideration and recently announced that beginning in 2012 optional units will be allowed by type of sunflower.

2011 Yield Trials Available On NSA Website As the 2011 sunflower yield trials come in, they are posted on the NSA website at Current data, as well as a wealth of historical information, can be found here. Yield trials are an important way for producers to look at a hybrid’s performance in several locations, over several years and environments. Yield is one component of the trials. Nonoil (confection) trials are segregated from oils, and most locations include a column regarding seed size. Oil-type trials include oil content, and some hybrids are tested for hulling ability. Depending on the year, some trials may be rated for a particular disease as well as other issues such as lodging.

NSA Research Forum is January 12 & 13 The annual National Sunflower Research Forum is scheduled for January 12 and 13 at the Ramada Plaza Suites in Fargo N.D. The Forum format includes the presentation of research reports from a broad spectrum of public and private researchers from around the U.S. and Canada. Papers are grouped into diseases, insects, weeds and production. The 2012 Forum is open to all who are interested in sunflower production. It is not restricted to researchers only. The NSA has allocated increasing amounts of funding for production research areas, from fungicide trials to doubled haploid genetics. Forum registration information is available on the NSA website: Certified crop advisors can obtain education credits.

Sclerotinia Initiative Meets January 18-20 The 10th annual National Sclerotinia Initiative will be held January 18-20 at the Holiday Inn Select, Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. The Sclerotinia Initiative is a USDA-ARS-funded

Help Save A Tree We strive to make our mailing list as efficient as possible. If you are (1) receiving duplicate copies of The Sunflower, (2) need to update your mailing address or (3) no longer wish to receive this magazine . . . PLEASE CONTACT US! Toll-Free: 888-718-7033, Ext. 5 Email:


program dedicated to research solutions to Sclerotinia in sunflower, canola, peas and lentils, edible beans and soybeans. This multicrop and multi-state approach has brought together a dedicated group of researchers who have made good progress over the life of the Initiative. Projects are being conducted in numerous locations, with a strong emphasis on genetic resistance. The January meeting is open to all persons interested in the disease, including hybrid seed and crop protection companies. There is no registration fee, but registration is requested and can be completed at:

Hasnedl Elected New Chairman of CHS Board Jerry Hasnedl, a St. Hilaire, Minn., farmer and long-time director, has been elected chairman of the board of CHS Inc., the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative. Hasnedl was selected during the 17member board’s yearly reorganization meeting, which followed the cooperative’s 2011 annual meeting. He has served on the CHS board since 1995. During 2011, he was its secretary-treasurer and also chaired the board's Capital Committee. Hasnedl helped organize the Minnesota Sunflower Research & Promotion Council in Jerry Hasnedl 2009 and is a current member of that council. He also is a member and past director of Northwest Grain, a locally governed CHS retail business, and serves on the board of the Cooperative Network. He raises wheat, barley, corn, soybeans, sunflower, canola and alfalfa on the family farm near St. Hilaire.

NSA Seeks Gold Award Nominations The National Sunflower Association is accepting nominations for the NSA Gold Award. This award is presented to individuals who have contributed extraordinarily to the overall sunflower industry, either through their occupation or through the National Sunflower Association. Persons having received the award in past years can be found on the NSA website. Past winners have come from a wide array of backgrounds, including farming, industry, research, extension and politics. This is the highest award that the NSA presents to individuals. The closing date for letters of nomination for the 2012 award is February 15, 2012. The letter should state the person’s contributions to the overall industry and provide specific examples. More than one letter per nomination is desirable. Letters of nomination should be sent to: The President, National Sunflower Assn., 2401 46th Ave. S.E., Suite 206, Mandan ND 58554-4829.

Year-End Confection Export Numbers Export of U.S. kernel is up compared to last year. Year-end numbers report kernel exports at 34,131 metric tons, as compared to 32,682 mt the previous year. Germany, although down overall from last year, retained its spot as the number one importer of kernel with 8,205 metric tons this year. The UK, Canada and Spain were the next largest kernel buyers, all increasing their totals over last year. Of note, Spain’s share increased dramatically this year to 3,939 metric tons, compared to 1,102 last year. On the in-shell side of the market, numbers were down slightly at 69,167 this year compared to 76,455 last year. Spain, Turkey and Mexico (in that order) all remained the three top importers of U.S. in-shell again this year, together accounting for 63% of the total exports. ■

THE SUNFLOWER January 2012

Larry Kleingartner Bids NSA Adieu

Photo: Sonia Mullally

Longtime Executive Director’s Message Upon Retirement


t is time! After 33 years at the helm of the National Sunflower Association, it is time to pass the baton to new leadership. Last year at this time, I advised the National Sunflower Association Board of Directors that I would be stepping down at the end of 2011. I wanted to give the board sufficient time to search for a new executive director. So the end of 2011 has now arrived. I am pleased to report that the board of directors has appointed John Sandbakken to the position of executive director. John has been on the NSA staff for the past 16 years, and the two of us have developed a close working relationship during that time. I will stay on in a lesser role, working on special projects related to production research. It has been a challenge and a pleasure to lead this organization over the last 33 years. It has been a roller coaster of “feast and famine,” and no two years have been alike. This industry started in an era when farmers were looking for an alternative crop to the wheat-fallow system which was well established in the mid-1970s. Simultaneously, Europe had a significant demand for sunflower seed for its crushing industry. These two factors coming together at the same time resulted in a dramatic growth industry. In most growth industries, problems

THE SUNFLOWER  January 2012

Above: Larry Kleingartner (seated) and his successor as NSA executive director, John Sandbakken.

ensue and competitors quickly surface. The sunflower industry was no exception. During much of the last 30 years, the sunflower industry has been adapting to changing conditions. For a long time, this industry exported 80% of the sunflower oil it produced. But with the development of oleic-based sunflower oil, the domestic market now dominates and oil exports are negligible. Initial production was centered in a small region adjacent to the Red River which separates North Dakota and Minnesota. Now the crop is grown over a huge geographic area, from the Prairie Provinces in the North to the most southern tip of Texas. Weed control methods have changed from double-incorporated preplant herbicides to herbicide-resistant hybrids in no-till systems. There were no fungicides labeled for most of the last 30 years. Today, fungicides are an increasingly important part of production systems.


ne of the great delights of working for the NSA over the years has been the innovative nature of board members, farmers,

researchers and the support industry. I have been blessed by working in an environment where new ideas are highly encouraged. I have been surrounded by staff members with great energy and “can do” attitudes. Never in my 33 years did I hear that a particular idea “was tried and didn’t work.” New ideas were molded into action plans with a great deal of input from all sectors. If there was not across-the-board unity, the plan simply did not get off of the ground. Of the many new projects that were developed, no one person was singled out for special accolades. And not one person demanded special recognition. It was a team approach. It was an industry-wide project, and personalities were secondary. It has been unfortunate that sunflower missed out on GMO or transgenic technology. Not having GMO technology has been a real negative for the sunflower industry. Acreage declined sharply as farmers flocked to this new technology in other crops. Sunflower was on the cusp of the technology. But the explosion of GMO negatives worldwide put it on the shelf. There was weed, insect and Sclerotinia resistance work in the pipeline. This all came to a crashing halt with the image of GMO products being compared to “Frankenfood.” The technology has remained on the shelf due to European intransigence and a large block of the world’s sunflower producers unable to pay for the technology. With the door shut on GMO, leaders of this industry again came up with alternative ideas. A SNP Consortium has been developed to access the newest genetic technology at the lowest possible price. This consortium has eight hybrid seed company members, and the USDA-ARS is a key partner. The goal is to utilize the newest breeding technology without spending millions of dollars in the process. A second consortium is underway to develop an efficient process for doubled haploid breeding. If the research presently underway is successful, the breeding time to bring a new hybrid to market will be reduced by 50%. It is these kinds of initiatives that bring competitors together and farmers and industry working hand in hand with one common goal. There are going to be many more challenges and changes ahead for this industry. Underlying all of this is demand for a broad array of products from several types of sunflower oil, hulled seeds, confection inshell and birdfood. The list of products continues to increase annually. I am confident that new ideas, initiatives and consortiums will continue to be developed as this industry adjusts to the times at hand. I am also confident that John Sandbakken, along with the many leaders throughout the combined industry, will continue to meet the challenges head-on and take advantage of new opportunities. ■


arkets Volatility & Generally Weaker Prices By Mike Krueger


he major sovereign debt problems within the Eurozone have gotten worse, not better, in the past month. The EU summit held on December 9 did not result in enough bold steps to soothe the nerves of the world’s financial markets, and the Euro dropped to its lowest level in over a year while the dollar simultaneously rallied to its highest point in the past year.

Financial markets around the world also have become even more volatile with the uncertainty. The U.S. remains far from resolving any of its debt problems, but the focus remains on Europe for now. The rapid rise in the dollar has resulted in generally weaker prices for virtually all commodities, including ag commodities. Gold lost more than $70 an ounce and silver lost more than $2.00 an ounce on one day in mid-December. Crude oil dropped by more than $4.00 a barrel the same day. USDA’s December supply and demand revisions were also considered bearish to oilseeds markets. They cut the export and crushing forecasts for soybeans and raised ending supplies 35 million bushels from the November forecast. Those changes were about what the soybean market was anticipating; but the increases, coupled with the ongoing mess in Europe, kept any buyers on the sidelines. The pace of U.S. soybean exports continues to be quite slow, with both sales and shipments running well behind last year’s record pace.


ot all of the news is bearish. Expectations for Brazil’s soybean production have started to back off a bit because of


fewer planted acres and some dryness in central and southern parts of the country. The latest USDA forecast for Brazil is for a soybean crop of 75 million metric tons. Some private groups within Brazil are now down to 70 million tons. Significant areas in Argentina are also struggling with dry conditions, but production forecasts are still in the range of 50 to 52 million metric tons. There also are some production problems with palm oil in Malaysia, and prices there have been escalating. Additionally, some analysts believe U.S. soybean oil supplies are overstated because the soybean oil yield per bushel is smaller than being used in the USDA numbers. This could be an important factor down the road for highoil-content crops like sunflower and canola.


ll markets continue to see liquidation of long positions by every group from the small speculators to the traditional funds to the index funds. This liquidation started late last summer when news about the possible default by Greece first hit the markets. Corn, soybean and wheat futures markets are no longer burdened with large fund long positions. The question for the markets is what will it take now to entice the big speculators to initiate long positions (buy) these markets again? Here are some things that would do that: • Some positive resolution to the EU debt crisis — or at least the perception that real progress is being made. • Weakness in the dollar. • Positive world economic news. • Weather problems that affect soybean production in Brazil or Argentina. • Increased buying of soybeans and soybean oil by China. ■ Mike Krueger is owner of The Money Farm, a grain marketing consulting firm. While the information in this article is believed to be reliable, marketing involves risk, and the author and The Sunflower assume no liability for its use.

THE SUNFLOWER  January 2012

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2011 Crop Survey Report By Hans Kandel*

Table 1. Fields Surveyed Per State, 2011 % Oil & Confection, Average Yield, Average Plant Population State North Dakota Minnesota South Dakota Manitoba Nebraska Vermont Colorado Texas Kansas Total

Number of Oil Sunflower Fields (% of fields) 77 80 9 67 23 96 9 22 5 20 8 100 9 89 7 43 8 88 155 77


Av. Yield Av. Population

(% of fields)



20 33 4 78 80 0 11 57 13 23

1,651 1,736 2,115 1,163 1,792 931 1,476 1,614 1,465 1,642

16,401 17,239 16,561 14,074 13,263 15,986 15,139 14,209 11,031 15,766

Table 2. Most Yield-Limiting Factor, 2010 & 2011 Surveys* (% of Surveyed Fields) Limiting Factor In-Row Plant Spacing Disease Lodging Birds Drought Weeds Insects Uneven Plant Growth Drown Out Hail Other No Problem

— 2010 — First Second 18 15 21 8 9 5 7 5 5 2 10 11 6 10 N.A. N.A. 3 3 1 1 9 5 12 35

* Based on 207 fields in 2010 and 155 fields in 2011.


— 2011 — First Second 18 17 15 10 10 8 8 3 8 3 8 10 5 4 3 1 N.A. N.A. 3 0 6 14 14 30


he National Sunflower Association has conducted in-depth field surveys throughout the main sunflower growing regions of the United States (and Manitoba, Canada) for the last 10 years, with the exception of 2004. During September 2011, qualified teams including agronomists, entomologists, pathologists, crop consultants and/or producers randomly stopped at approximately one field for every 10,000-15,000 acres on a county basis. Each team spent at least 45 minutes per field and filled in a standard evaluation form. The specialists determined the most limiting and second most limiting yield factors. They also assessed the incidence and type of diseases and weeds, presence and damage by insects, bird damage and agronomic practices used in the field. A yield estimate was calculated based on plant stand, head size, seed size and seeds per head. The 2011 average surveyed sunflower yield was 1,642 lbs/ac with an average per-acre plant population of 15,766. (Table 1). Determination of yield-limiting factors was based on the surveyors’ judgment. Different regions of the U.S. and Canada may have differences in the main limiting factor. For instance, in the wetter areas of North Dakota, Manitoba and Minnesota, disease may have been the most limiting factor, whereas Dectes long-horned beetle damage was mostly concentrated in the southern production region. Overall, the most limiting factor in * Hans Kandel, extension agronomist with North Dakota State University, is coordinator of the annual sunflower

THE SUNFLOWER  January 2012

Plant stands and plant spacing within a row have consistently ranked as top limiting factors since the first survey was conducted in 2002. 2011 was plant spacing within the row, followed by disease. Regardless of the 2011 planting conditions, it should be noted that plant stands and plant spacing within a row have consistently ranked as top limiting factors since the first survey was conducted in 2002. The plant spacing difficulties consist of either a skip within the row, or areas where plants grow too close together, causing one of the plants not to contribute to the sunflower yield. Equal distribution of plants is essential to obtaining the maximum yield. Skips in rows have many potential causations, including no seed drop during planting, dormant seed, poor seed-to-soil contact, seedling disease, lack of moisture, insect damage, or even feeding damage by animals. Producers should pay attention to their management and refine their technique while seeding sunflower. Planter calibration may be the first step to reducing skips. There appear to be more skips in solid-seeded fields when airseeders are used. In 14% of the fields no limiting factor could be determined, and in 30% of the fields “no problem” was reported for the second limiting factor (Table 2). The “no problem” category indicates that the evaluators felt the field reached its maximum yield potential for that particular growing season.

5 8 E DMR Sunflower with HI-Octane Yield & Oleic Content


he diseases of most concern in sunflower are rust, Sclerotinia and Phomopsis. Rust incidence in 2011 was down in Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, North and South Dakota and Texas compared with 2010, but rust was detected in all surveyed fields in Manitoba. Sclerotinia head rot in fields with the disease was down in Manitoba. Head rot severity was similar compared with last year in North Dakota, while head rot was absent in Minnesota and South Dakota. (See graph on next page). Phomopsis was a major concern in Minnesota, where 45% of the plants in infected fields were diagnosed with the disease. The percent diseased plants with Phomopsis in North and South Dakota was up when compared to 2010. Nebraska fields had similar levels of Phomopsis-infected plants in both years. The highest percent severity of longhorned beetle (plants with the insect) was found in Kansas, followed by Texas and South Dakota. (Con’t on Next Page)

THE SUNFLOWER  January 2012


Sclerotinia Head Rot Severity, 2008-2011 2008




% Plants Infected

25 20 15 10 5 0





Long-Horned Beetle Severity, 2008-2011

% Plants Infested



90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0




Bird damage was reported in 67% of the surveyed sunflower fields in Manitoba, 46% in North Dakota and 39% in South Dakota. Broadleaf weeds continue to be more of a problem than most grassy weed species. Palmer amaranth is a major problem weed in Kansas and was recorded as being present in 100% of the surveyed fields. In Texas, 71% of the fields contained Palmer amaranth. Sunflower growers are encouraged to use information generated in this survey to manage their sunflower fields. Producers can adjust their planting equipment, work on optimum weed control, apply fungicides when needed and reduce bird feeding on the sunflower crop. This survey data also will be used to help define research priorities in improving sunflower crop production and the bottom line for producers. ■

Summaries of each NSA crop survey from 2002 onward can be found on the National Sunflower Association’s website — growers/yield-and-survey/ CO





THE SUNFLOWER  January 2012

Confection Seed Development Yes, It’s All About the Size!


Photos: Red River Commodities

hen it comes to confection seeds, does size matter? The demand certainly seems to be going in the direction of bigger seeds. Increasingly, the percentage of confection seed size that is over a 20/64 screen is becoming more important with processors. The export market prefers the longer seed, so processors are buying more on seed size, which is becoming more of a price factor. Seed size is generally evaluated as percentage over a /64th round hole screen. In the past, the scale was comparing 16, 18, 20 and 22. Now that has shifted to comparing 20, 22 and 24. The smaller seeds are still out there and are generally hulled or used as bird seed. The 22/64 and over is used primarily for the in-shell market. Due to the demand for larger seed, the utilization of confection seed has changed. “ ‘Way back when,’ we saw pretty much a one-third split,” explains Brian Andrew, senior marketing manager with Red River Commodities. “There was a much more even distribution, where one-third of the crop went to in-shell, a third to be hulled and a third to bird seed.” Now, most confection seed (Andrew estimates 80-85%) is going for in-shell. The 20/64 seed size goes into the domestic inshell market with the 22 to 24/64 primarily used for the export in-shell market. With the advent of conoil varieties, those seeds are going into the kernel market along with some oils coming in to fill the need in that sector. “Now we are seeing, 25 to 30% of the crop coming in at 24 or larger,” Andrew says. “I remember in the early ’90s, if you wanted a size 24, you were happy with 2 to 4% of the crop at that.” The focus has certainly shifted to producing a bigger seed with good test weight, adds Tim Egeland of SunOpta/Dahlgren. “We try to satisfy as many customers with as few varieties as we can,” he says, “and that has become increasingly more difficult because different markets demand different products.” But the unique aspect about confection processors is that they have two types of customers to satisfy, Egeland points out. One customer is the grower. The processor has to focus on taking care of the supply side by developing a hybrid that the grower likes with an appealing agronomic package. On the demand side, buyers are looking for seeds that each market is asking for in terms of size and length for the consumer.


In numerous foreign countries (e.g., Spain, China, Turkey) consumers eat sunflower one seed at a time — much the same way Americans eat in-shell peanuts. That’s why the larger, longer seeds are desired for export. A steady demand remains in this market, which bodes well for the industry. But it’s not without challenges. One of those challenges is competing with foreign sellers in the export market. Processors are keenly aware of needing to offer the farmer attractive prices and still protect their margins while maintaining the traditional level of high quality that has come to be expected of U.S. seeds. Highquality seeds are a given in the U.S. — not something foreign buyers have to worry about. Other factors such as delivery timing or price are negotiable, but not quality. Egeland says there are the constant challenges for the grower in planting the larger seed as well as the processor looking to efficiently process that same seed. In recent years, processors have turned the majority of their focus to the product buyer and have lost sight of focusing on the grower. That, Egeland says, has to swing back in the direction of the farmer as the industry struggles to find acres among the competition from genetically modified crops like soybeans, corn and canola. Hybrids with better agronomics are evolving as the main focus. Confection processors are looking to maintain large seed size, coupled with enhanced agronom-

Joel Schaefer, CHS Sunflower’s hybrid seed program manager, at the company’s research site near Grandin, N.D.

THE SUNFLOWER  January 2012

ics and yield performance, while keeping profitability of the producer in mind. Those ingredients can be a “tall order” for plant breeders. Emphasis on breeding for the larger and longer seed began in the late 1990s, and companies are now reaping the benefits of that work. Traditional breeding takes seven to 10 years before something is commercialized (i.e., a new hybrid hits the market), so companies must plan for that. Joel Schaefer, hybrid seed program manager at CHS, Inc., is at the forefront of the seed size evolution. “When I first started almost 20 years ago, seed size 20 made up the upper fraction of the crop,” he relates. “Now it’s very much the lower end. We’re working on 26 now.” Size keeps increasing and so do the challenges. One of the biggest challenges to consider with the grower in mind is plantability. In the quest for bigger seeds to sell into the confection market, Schaefer says they’ve created more difficulty for the grower. “We’ve really reached the threshold of the size of seed that the grower can get through his planter. We’re near that edge, if not there already.”

optimistic that this will happen sooner than later. “It’s been a little quiet on the SNP project recently, but I think as we look ahead, we are going to turn a sharp corner after the first of the year and make great strides with the SNP project,” Schafer observes. The project may also help with what Schaefer says is of utmost importance to the industry—yield stability. “We’ve made great strides in the last five years or so in the yield gap between oils and confections. But one thing we need to do as an industry

Setting the Standard for Sunflowers Innovative producer marketing programs World’s largest confection sunflower processor


o how does the seed keep getting even bigger if the planting seed is as big as it can get? It goes back to the breeding side. The long and winding road to better hybrids will be made shorter with new molecular tools such as gene marking. The USDAARS Sunflower and Plant Biology Research Unit is making great strides with the SNP marker project. Some of the private breeders have access to other molecular tools as well. Schaefer explains that most of the recent material released by USDA has been oil-type (or, in a few cases, small-seeded confection). Confection breeders have the challenge of taking the new line with the trait of interest into something with a large and long seed for the confection market. “We start from scratch, essentially, with the oil seed that has that desirable trait, which in some instances might be disease resistance,” Schaefer says. “In order to do this, it takes several generations of backcrossing, screening and selecting. By the time the seed is in a useable form, often times the trait of interest is either diluted or we’ve lost it.” But Schaefer is hopeful about the USDA sunflower breeding program continuing to play an important role with more work being focused on the confection side than ever before. This is where the SNP program becomes critical. “With that tool, we’ll be able to make that trait more accurate and essentially keep better track of it when we are bringing them forward into new populations.” Breeders and growers have reason to be

THE SUNFLOWER  January 2012

is to establish yield stability,” he explains. “If we can alleviate the yield ‘roller coaster,’ we can make sunflower more attractive to the grower.” Sunflower confection processors and breeders alike always come back around with the growers’ best interest in mind. Bigger seed is in demand, but the market won’t sustain itself without the grower— whether it’s plantability, good agronomics or price. Schaefer sums it up best: “If the grower isn’t happy, no one’s happy.” — Sonia Mullally ■

Our exclusive contracting program is designed with your success in mind. CHS is a competitive buyer of large confection and oil sunflowers, as well as white proso millet and other small grains. Contact us today. 701.484.5313

© 2009 CHS Inc


Photo: GIANTS Seeds

Choices Abound When It Comes to Today’s Options In Sunflower Seed Snack Flavors


ome choices are hard. Chocolate or vanilla? The blonde or the redhead? To be or not to be? It used to be that the choice for snacking on sunflower seeds was an easy one. Roasted and salted. End of story. Well, in recent years that choice has become so much more than just the simple bag of salted seeds. The popular snack has undergone a flavor revolution of sorts. GIANTSTM Seeds, a regional supplier of consumer-packed in-shells, has joined in the revolution by offering seven different varieties in addition to the traditional salted. They include: Spicy Garlic, Zesty Italian, Ranch, BBQ, Dill Pickle, Salt & Pepper and Kettle Roast. Not long ago, maybe just 15 years back, many in the industry saw the flavors as simply a passing fad. They couldn’t have been more wrong. Robert Schuler, GIANTS vice president of marketing, says consumer demand is certainly one of the major driving forces behind the flavor menu. “It’s probably weekly that we get requests and suggestions from consumers on new flavors they’d like to see on the market.” So how is a new flavor born? Schuler


says email and social media have drastically changed the way they communicate with the consumer. They welcome all suggestions. Some they try, some they don’t. Other flavor ideas come from their staff or trade shows. Schuler says the new flavor samples are requested from what they call “flavor houses” and taste-tested by those within the company. The samples then go on to consumer test market groups who give their opinions and recommendations for any adjustments. From there, the new flavor may or may not go into full production, depending on the results. GIANTS’ newest flavor offering is Kettle Roast, which was just released this fall. It’s a combination of salty and sweet. “It’s a unique flavor for us that satisfied two common consumer demands of less sodium and an interesting taste with the

Some regions of the country like certain flavors that, for some reason, another part of the country might not prefer.

touch of sugar,” Schuler explains. “It also has a nice added benefit of no ‘raw mouth’ feel that you get with the traditional salted variety.” And the flavor offerings don’t stop there. Other brand offerings include: chili lime, jalapeno, nacho cheese, teriyaki, buffalo wing, bacon and other spicy and seasoned varieties. There is even a brand that’s flavored with a popular whiskey. Think those are over the top? Some companies have gotten very creative offering an entirely new level of flavors like: Bloody Mary, Jamaican Jerk, Beer Baked and Bleu Cheese. Another very unique offering is Swamp Seeds from Swamphouse, Inc., infused with Cajun crawfish boil seasoning. They are primarily distributed and sold from (where else?) Louisiana. These seeds are new to the marketplace and are selling well. Marshall Beall of Swamp Seeds says the product hit the retail shelves this September. The previous nine months were spent developing the flavor and designing the packaging. “Down here we eat a lot of seafood, and we like things spicy,” Beall explains. “You travel anywhere around the country and you see Cajun-style restaurants. They try to cook like we do, and the ones that do it right are successful.” Beall adds that his company tried to build on that desire for Cajun nationwide to come up with an innovative product. So far sales are good, and the company is working on distributor contracts across the southern U.S. from New Mexico to Florida with hopes of expanding to the entire country. They also are developing a lineup of other flavors and products, including flavored kernel, which is unique to the industry. Their products can be checked out at Why the flavor explosion you ask? It’s no secret that Americans are a food-obsessed society. There is a new sector of people called “foodies” who are tuned into all things pertaining to food. If proof is needed for this fact, all one needs to do is locate the cable channel called the Food Network on your television. Thanks to this obsession, ordinary everyday cooks and chefs like Rachael Ray, Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay, Gordon Ramsey and Wolfgang Puck have become household names. Some flavors don’t make sense, but sometimes they don’t have to if they simply taste good. GIANTS’ Schuler says it’s a very dynamic part of their business because they have to be aware that some regions of the country like certain flavors, that, for some reason, another part of the country might not prefer. He estimates that they’ve tried and tested over 40 different flavors over the course of the last few years. Some don’t even make it out of the

THE SUNFLOWER  January 2012

Photo: Sumseeds

company’s office, while others are a hit. Dill Pickle is GIANTS’ best seller in the flavor category, followed closely by Salt & Pepper.

Energized Seeds Just when you thought that new flavors were taking the sunflower seed world by storm, some companies have taken it up a notch. GamerFood, offers unique taste combined with a dash of caffeine. The Los Angeles-based company markets its “Seeds of Victory” directly to the gaming community — another relatively new sector of modern society. The product is marketed with one simple message: “Improve Your Game – Eat Well, Play Better.” According to the company’s website, the product will increase concentration, boost performance and stimulate metabolism — all elements coveted by gamers. The salted sunflower seed packets sell for $23.99 for eight (1.25 oz) bags equal to about 12 servings. A company called Sumseeds, not to be left behind by the flavor trend, offers both a unique taste and a jolt of energy. As the industry’s first confection seed infused with the components of caffeine, lysine, taurine and ginseng, Original Sumseeds were first bagged in January 2007. Flavors include dill pickle, honey BBQ and salt and pepper. A product of Dakota Valley Products, Inc., the company is based in Willow Lake, S.D. —a rural community of less than 250 people. The well-traveled road of caffeine-infused products has been paved with energy drinks — a craze that began within the last 10 years. In addition to caffeinated sunflower seeds, the market has exploded in recent years to include caffeinated donuts, potato chips, gum, lollipops, mints, breath spray and lip balm, just to name few. Pop a handful of Sumseeds into your mouth, and you’ll have consumed a little over half the amount of caffeine in an average-sized double latte. The 1.75-oz bags are infused with 140 milligrams of caffeine. For the healthy adult population, moderate caffeine consumption of 300 mg

THE SUNFLOWER  January 2012

feinated seeds. The desire to eat handfuls of seeds is already there with the consumer. “People are already in the habit of eating sunflower seeds to stay awake,” Walter says. “We need to take it to the next level and get them to accept that adding caffeine will further help that goal.” So a once-easy choice is suddenly much more complicated and a whole lot tastier. Clearly, there is no shortage of options when it comes to in-shell sunflower seeds. New flavors are being introduced all the time. Hard telling what the next big taste trend will be. — Sonia Mullally ■

per day is considered safe. The tasteless caffeine adds a kick that used to be reserved only for coffee and soda. The taurine is an organic acid, common in energy drinks, that has been known to alleviate muscle fatigue and lower blood sugar. Lysine, an essential amino acid, is a building block for protein. Ginseng, also commonly found in popular energy drinks, is a natural, plant-derived stimulant. The niche filled by energized sunflower seeds is that they offer a nutritious snack that satisfies hunger without the sugar that’s found in most drinks with the same motive. Compare Sumseeds, which has just two grams of sugar, to a leading energy drink, which can contain up to 27 grams of sugar. There may be times when someone could use an extra jolt of caffeine, but to whom are these types of products marketed? Among the top consumer groups are athletes, truck drivers, gamers and sleep-deprived college students. Walter says his company is trying to revamp the image of caffeinated products. One of the major hurdles is that people think of them as “novelty items.” He’d like to see that change to the same attitude toward soda, for instance. It’s accepted that there are caffeinated and uncaffeinated soda choices. Sumseeds is hoping the same would someday hold true for their products, right alongside popular uncaf-


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Building New Hybrids

Photo: Don Lilleboe

Opportunities & Challenges

Commercial Breeders Address Questions


he Fargo, N.D.-based USDA-ARS Sunflower Research Unit (now reorganized as the Sunflower and Plant Biology Research Unit) has a long history of basic research generating important contributions to the nation’s sunflower industry. For decades, this research group — encompassing the disciplines of botany, entomology, plant pathology, plant breeding, cytogenetics, molecular genetics and biochemistry — has striven to aid the industry through the development and release of elite sunflower germplasm, which then can be accessed by commercial breeders as they work to develop ever-better hybrids for planting by farmers. The Sunflower has carried numerous articles over the years describing the objectives and accomplishments of USDA-ARS sunflower scientists. In the January 2011 issue, for example, we carried “Update on SNP,” a discussion on the high-tech system (single-nucleotide polymorphism) that facilitates detailed analysis of breeding population traits early on in the breeding process. That, in turn, speeds up the parental selection and breeding line development schedule, thus contributing to faster production of new hybrids. That January article followed an introduction to the SNP topic in the August/ September 2010 issue of The Sunflower. Both articles featured explanations and commentary from Brent Hulke, USDAARS sunflower research geneticist. Hulke has been a central figure in the exploration of SNP’s potential benefits for sunflower


breeding and in the construction of the program for its use in his lab and by commercial breeders. Other articles in recent years have looked at ARS advances in screening and selection for improved tolerance/resistance to such key diseases as Sclerotinia head and stalk rot, Phomopsis, Verticillium wilt, rust and downy mildew. We’ve also highlighted ARS entomologists’ efforts, in concert with university specialists, to locate and incorporate tolerance to important sunflower insects like the seed weevil and stem weevil. Most recently, in our December 2011 issue, we reported on the use of wild sunflower species in the search for improved resistance to Sclerotinia. The contributions of USDA-ARS sunflower scientists, past and present, have played a critical role in the development of new hybrids required to keep this crop profitable for growers and competitive with other crops. This month, we thought, why not ask those “closest to the action” — commercial sunflower breeders — for their perspective on the value of the ARS program and for their thoughts on other topics related to the hybrids, present and future, planted by the nation’s sunflower growers. Presented below are summaries of answers received from five prominent sunflower breeders. Because some of them preferred not to identify their company in this article, we are referring to them here simply as Breeder A, Breeder B, etc. We thank them for their candid insights. — Don Lilleboe

Much of the material that USDA has recently released — or will be releasing in the near future — revolves around improved disease resistance or tolerance. Is this material easily integrated into your program? Are there more disease resistance resources that you can utilize beyond USDA releases? Breeder A — It depends upon inheritance of the trait. Releases with Sclerotinia tolerance are nearly impossible to use in breeding programs due to the fact that the tolerance is conferred by many genes, and accurate screening is difficult. In addition, the releases have not been “elite” in terms of yield potential and other agronomic traits. Mapping of multi-genic traits is difficult and has not, to date, been successful in a practical breeding program. Some traits, such as downy mildew resistance, are almost a “must have” due to less-than-perfect control by currently registered fungicides. Any disease that can limit yield or quality needs to be addressed by breeders. There is material available from other public institutes globally, and the USDA germplasm collection can be used. In addition, wild species in production areas can be sources of resistance genes. Breeder B — Disease resistance is one of our primary breeding goals. The USDA disease-resistant material has been very useful for this. We have also obtained resistant material from companies in other countries through cooperative agreements. Breeder C — We have used USDA-released lines, recent and past — especially for downy mildew resistance. It is easily integrated into our oilseed program; but since it is always oilseed-based, not so easily integrated into the confectionery program. Recovering an acceptable confectionery line from a cross that integrates disease resistance from an oil line takes more time and more backcrossing to recover the confection type. It would be great to also have USDA-released confectionery germplasm with improved disease resistant traits. USDA-released lines have been helpful for Sclerotinia head and stalk rot and, more recently, Phomopsis. Breeder D — Confection breeders have the challenge of taking the new lines/ traits of interest that typically have been very small [oil-type] black seed into something large and long for the confection market. This takes several generations of backcrossing, screening and selecting. With quantitatively inherited traits, by the time the seed is in a useable form for the confection market, the trait of interest often is either diluted or nonexistent. This is where the SNP program becomes critical. It is very difficult to com

THE SUNFLOWER  January 2012

bine a disease package to include all the other confection market traits that are needed, i.e., high yield, long seed, large seed (most over 22/64), good color, good kernel size, good flavor, a seed coat that does not scruff, and good plantability. To be able to define, locate and consistently bring traits of interest into new populations, without the need to screen at each generation, will greatly accelerate the breeding process. Currently, USDA-ARS has been working on incorporating confection-type seed into its future germplasm releases. This will be a big benefit, to not have to start the breeding process from scratch with each new release. USDA-ARS has done an excellent job of “defining the enemy.� With new races of downy mildew, Phomopsis, etc., they have been very proactive at defining the races we are up against and looking for better sources of resistance that can be incorporated. Once we have defined SNP markers that will enable us to stack multiple known sources of resistance for a particular disease and confidently bring them forward into new populations, hopefully our tolerance will not only be better but also last over a longer period of time. Breeder E — We have actively bred with disease-tolerant materials released by the USDA for many years. Integration would be facilitated if novel disease resistance genes were presented in more elite and competitive inbreds along with a molecular marker to track the trait in our breeding programs. As it stands, lack of good phenotypic screening to track resistance in breeding populations makes it difficult to extract value, and robust molecular markers would help alleviate this issue. Yield and quality are obviously paramount in the development and release of new commercial varieties. What challenges or “baggage� does inserting disease resistance into elite material present to you? Is there an automatic yield drag? Breeder A — A lot depends on the genetic base of the resistance sources. Wild species donors present significant challenges in introgression. We have had issues with linkage drag for oil content, maturity, seed color and other traits when working with single-gene resistance sources — and even when using markers. Breeder B — It all depends on the quality of the source material. I have made test hybrids using USDA-released material directly as one of the parents and have seen good yield and quality data. Other releases have not shown similar good results. Breeder C — No, there is not always an automatic yield drag when inserting disease resistance — especially for more simply inherited traits like downy mildew and rust resistance. We sometimes see yield drag for some disease resistance traits, such as Sclerotinia stalk and head rot and Phomopsis — especially when growing conditions are optimal and the disease is not present. Breeder D — I think the gap in yield between the oil and confection hybrids is narrowing a bit. Market demand for confection hybrids has put more focus on confection breeding efforts that have contributed to better agronomics as well as size. Breeder E — Integrating disease resistance alleles into elite germplasm can result in yield drag, particularly if the source material is not elite, is derived from wild species or occupies an unfavorable heterotic pool. Yield drag is not automatic. In fact, good disease tolerance serves to enhance yield performance in environments where disease pressure can negatively impact agronomic performance.

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Which diseases are of paramount interest to you in your variety development program for the U.S. market?


Answers from the breeders were quite similar on this question. Sclerotinia head rot, Sclerotinia stalk rot, rust, Phomopsis and downy mildew consistently made the list, with Verticillium also noted by some of the breeders. (Cont. on Next Page)

THE SUNFLOWER  January 2012


Nuseed Acquires Seeds 2000 It’s business as usual at Seeds 2000 Inc., based in Breckenridge, Minn., following the recent announcement that the company was acquired by Australian-based Nuseed, a subsidiary of Nufarm Limited. Purchase price was $55.2 million. “Seeds 2000 is a long-established brand with a great reputation for delivering great products and services to farmers,” says Andy Thomas, Nuseed Americas vice president. “We will maintain the Seeds 2000 brand and look forward to continued success.” Seeds 2000 President Steve Kent says he expected the transition to be seamless and to facilitate additional opportunities to expand the business in both the domestic and global markets. Seeds 2000, with annual revenues of approximately $20 million, was founded in the early 1990s by Dr. Gary Fick and Jay Schuler. A seed research, production, sales and marketing company, it has expanded its international activities over the last few years and now has development and sales activities in the U.S., Canada, China, Argentina and several European markets. Nuseed is a global seed and traits company that develops sunflower, canola and sorghum products that are marketed to over 25 countries. Seeds 2000 will complement Nuseed’s confection sunflower operations. “The two businesses are highly complementary,” Thomas says. “Nuseed is committed to investing in sunflower breeding and development with sunflower breeding operations in Europe, Latin America, Australia and California. Seeds 2000 adds an important presence in the North American market with germplasm and products highly adapted for the market.” Nuseed has two breeders in California, so along with the three breeders at Seeds 2000 in Minnesota, the company now has five full-time breeders dedicated to sunflower in the U.S. “The operations of Seeds 2000 will continue as they have in the past,” Thomas explains. “This is a well-operated business with a fine history of delivering for customers.”

Has the evolvement of SNP systems and other molecular genetics systems allowed breeders to “bypass” the yield-drag issue? Will SNP accelerate your ability to add genes in a timely manner? Breeder A — Markers help, but they do not eliminate the issue. Molecular markers can significantly help introgression of traits by reducing linkage drag and selection for background recovery, resulting in faster conversions. But breeders still must test converted material extensively to determine the extent of yield drag that may be present. We have been using SNP with good success. Breeder B — Even with SNP technology, there still may be yield drag. Hopefully, SNPs will positively identify that the genes for various resistances exist in given lines; but one still must make the crosses to incorporate the resistance genes into elite parent lines, and other inferior genes may be “dragged” along. Backcrossing could be used to eliminate these inferior genes. Only some form of single-gene transfer would totally eliminate dragging these inferior genes along with the resistant genes. But this, of course, means GMO sunflower. SNP technology will definitely be useful, as it will let the breeder know that he has material with a given resistance. Doubled-haploid technology [also] would definitely speed up the breeding in sunflower. Breeder C — Logic says SNP will allow us to bypass yielddrag issues, but the project isn’t far enough along to know for sure. Yes, SNP and markers will speed up our ability to incorporate specific genes quickly and more efficiently, with fewer mistakes, during the selection process. Breeder D — (See answer to first question.) Breeder E — Molecular marker profiling can help, particularly if the region containing the disease resistance locus is highly saturated with SNPs. In this case, breeders can select for SNPs that are close to or within the disease resistance gene and away from SNPs located outside the resistance locus. Doing this allows the breeder to pull along the favorable genes while minimizing the presence of unfavorable genes in elite breeding populations. SNPs will definitely accelerate trait integration efforts. Will you be introducing hybrids that are not herbicide resistant? Breeder A — The goal would be to have herbicide tolerance in nearly all hybrids, assuming the trait being used has no negative impact on the hybrid.

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Breeder B — Herbicide resistance is not that important for our primary market (foreign). But herbicide-resistant hybrids remain one of our breeding objectives. Breeder C — We learn “never to say never.” But at this time we are geared toward all new hybrids having herbicide resistance. Breeder D — With the ever-changing dynamics of growing sunflower, I think we will need to continue to pursue all areas — whether Clearfield®, Express®, traditional or something new. Providing more options to growers will only benefit the industry in the long term. Breeder E — Not in the foreseeable future. Average yields in the U.S. continue to increase annually. In your view, what is the top-end yield potential of today’s sunflower hybrids? In five years? Breeder A — I would guess 4,000 lbs/ac may be possible today in ideal conditions. I don’t see that changing much in five years, especially if producers demand that breeders continue to focus on incorporating disease and/or herbicide traits. Doing so does take away resources that could have been used to breed for increased yield potential in base genetics. Breeder B — I could not put a number to yield potential of hybrids, as so much depends upon environmental factors. I do believe sunflower will continue to make progress toward higher yields, but at a slower rate than in the past. I also believe higher yield potential will be the result of developing improved cultural practices as well as through breeding efforts. Breeder C — In trials, top-end yields are sometimes 3,500 to 4,500 lbs/ac. Topend farmer-grown yields are usually in the 2,500-3,000-lb range. There’s room for improvement. I think yields can be improved by 300-500 lbs/ac in the next five years. Breeder D — During a favorable growing season, it is not uncommon for growers to report 3,000-plus lbs/ac. With the incorporation of better disease resistance, etc., we need to strive toward yield stability under high disease pressures rather than increasing peak yield. Most growers would prefer a consistent 2,000 lbs/ac, rather than 3,000 lbs one year and 1,000 the next year with the drop in yield due mainly to disease. Breeder E — Top end now is roughly 3,000 lbs/ac. In the future, I would expect to see significant improvements to the top end. Many growers currently don’t realize the yield potential of their sunflower acres because they don’t manage the crop for yield. The growers who do manage for yield are achieving very impressive results. But this requires more inputs, scouting and active management. ■

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Getting a Handle On Phomopsis NSA-University-USDA Partnership Gets More Aggressive


Photos: Tom Gulya

sk a political candidate running for national office about their thoughts on climate change, and you are likely to get an earful. Whatever your thoughts on climate change, there is little debate that the north-

ern production region of the Dakotas and Minnesota has been wetter than normal over the last five years. The wet environment has been conducive to more diseases on crops, and sunflower is no exception.

One disease that has surfaced throughout much of the production region during this wet cycle is Phomopsis stem canker. Moderate temperatures combined with frequent rainfalls appear to be the right formula for this disease to develop. Phomopsis stem canker was first observed in Europe in the early 1980s and nearly devastated the industry there. The disease was first observed in the United States in 1984. The National Sunflower Association has conducted an annual crop survey for the past 10 years using volunteer scientists and others to conduct intensive random field surveys. Data from these surveys going back to the 2002 crop year show a very small percentage of the crop with this disease. But starting in 2006, Phomopsis incidence increased steadily in most states, with near-epidemic proportions in 2010. (See chart on next page.) The fungus proliferates in the stem and overwinters in infected plant debris. Spores are released in the spring/early summer and are either wind-blown or rain splashed onto the leaves of developing sunflower plants. The fungus spreads through the veins of the leaf to the petiole and eventually to the stem. Once Phomopsis reaches the stem, large brown lesions develop, which are usually visible around or after bloom. The lesions continue to grow and eventually girdle the stem and also cause the pith to disintegrate. The hollow stem, due to rotten pith, weakens the stalk, making it prone to lodging. Under severe conditions, the developing seeds in the head are starved of nutrients, resulting in early senescence and yield loss. It is important to recognize the difference of between Phomopsis canker, Sclerotinia mid-stalk rot and Phoma (photos at left). The Phomopsis canker is large and often five to six inches in length. It is brown rather than black (as in Phoma) and not light gray (as with Sclerotinia mid-stalk rot). The canker always surrounds a decayed petiole. The infected stalk at the lesion can be crushed with moderate thumb pressure, as opposed to Phoma lesions which remain hard. With mid-stem Sclerotinia, the hard sclerotia bodies are evident when breaking the stem apart. As Phomopsis became more evident, the NSA Board of Directors, along with research partners from the universities and USDA-ARS, established an aggressive tripronged research strategy: (1) determining the identity of the Phomopsis species; (2) breeding for resistance, and (3) determinLeft: These photos provide a good visual differentiation between Phomposis (upper left), Phoma (upper right) and Sclerotinia mid-stalk rot (left).


THE SUNFLOWER  January 2012

Source: 2011 NSA Crop Survey, Hans Kandel

Phomopsis Severity in Sunflower, 2009-2011

ing which fungicides and rates are effective for control. In 2009 U.S. sunflower researchers began to question whether more than one species of the disease exists in the United States. The fungus originally identified in Yugoslavia and then throughout Europe and the U.S. is Diaporthe (Phomopsis) helianthi. USDA-ARS sunflower pathologist Tom Gulya has been leading a team of pathologists and students collecting diseased stalks from fields across the U.S. Characterization of the 2010 samples con-

firmed the Diaporthe species, but samples from South Dakota indicated a potential second species. Charactering the disease species is necessary for breeders, since identifying resistance gene(s) to one species may not confer resistance to another. Determining aggressiveness of one or more species is also important so that resistance selection can be made for the most aggressive pathogen. It is noteworthy that Australian researchers have confirmed three species of Diaporthe (Phomopsis) in that country.


o get to the bottom of the species issue, the National Sunflower Association has funded a Ph.D. student, Febina Mathew, at North Dakota State University. She is working under the direction of Drs. Sam Markell and Gulya. Her initial task is to determine the species and prevalence of the disease, using samples collected from all of the sunflower-producing states. Mathew has confirmed two species from 2010 samples and will be poring through the hundreds of samples collected from the 2011 crop. She will be growing the two species in the greenhouse to determine virulence. This will be a huge asset for breeders who can key in on the most damaging species. The second part of the project is to identify genetic resistance. That work got a great boost in 2011 field trials in Minnesota and South Dakota. Gulya tested 260 entries from the USDA-ARS Plant Introduction Station at Ames, Iowa, for tolerance to the disease. There were two entries that had zero disease at all three locations and nine entries with less than 2% infection. Of great importance for breeders is that five USDA advanced lines had from 2 to 4% infection across the three sites. These five lines have already been genotyped in the NSA SNP program, so marker selection will be an available breeding tool. In addition Gulya tested 73 private company hybrids in two of the trials. Most of the hybrids are assumed to be experimental. Infection across the two trials ranged from 1 to 28%. There were 13 hybrids with infection rates of 5% or less, representing five different companies. Gulya was pleased with the results. “The private companies have some excellent material in their breeding programs, and the USDA advanced material looks very good,” he notes. “In addition, we have a good deal of germplasm to select from the Plant Introduction Station.” The key now is the work being completed by Febina Mathew to determine how many species of the disease are out there and to ensure we have resistant genes for all species. — Larry Kleingartner  ■

Mark Your Calendar! Photo: Sam Markell

2012 NSA

Summer Seminar June 26-28 Febina Mathew, a North Dakota State University graduate student, has confirmed two different species of Phomopsis from 2010 samples and is now examining 2011 samples. Greenhouse growouts will help determine the species’ virulence.

THE SUNFLOWER  January 2012

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Fungicides & Phomopsis An Update on NDSU Trials


urying infected stalks via tillage can be an effective cultural practice in reducing possible infection in subsequent crops. Infected stalks that are buried even an inch below the surface will not be able to re-

lease spores. Obviously, this is an alternative in areas were tillage is a common cultural practice. In both 2010 and 2011, Phomopsis fungicide trials were established at the North

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Dakota State University Research Extension Center, Langdon, in collaboration with Sam Markell, NDSU extension plant pathologist. Phomopsis-infected stalks were placed throughout the nursery to initiate disease. But in both years, the disease did not develop. However, an inoculated rust trial (under pivot irrigation) at the center had good levels of Phomopsis (as well as rust) in 2011. A number of fungicides and application timings were evaluated in the trial. Phomopsis disease ratings were taken using a rating scale of 0 to 4, with “0” having no disease and “4” representing a lodged, nonharvestable stalk. In this study, the nontreated control had a Phomopsis rating of 2.95 (stem turning brown from infection), while the fungicide treatments varied in disease ratings from a low of 0.43 with three applications of Headline® to a high of 2.1 from a single application of Headline applied at the R-1 (early bud) growth stage. Scott Halley, crop protection specialist at the Langdon R&E Center, concludes that a single application at R-1 is too early to control Phomopsis. He likes two fungicide applications with one at the R-2 or R-3 growth stage and the second application at early bloom (R-5.0). While Headline was tested in this study as the principle fungicide, Folicur® would be an alternate option for the first application. “Folicur is inexpensive, and it will stop early rust development as well,” Halley observes. He would come back with Headline, Quash® or Endura® at early bloom. “In addition to Phomopsis, Headline is effective against rust; Quash would be effective against additional infections of rust, Phomopsis and suppression of Sclerotinia head rot. Endura would be effective on head rot but was not tested in this study,” Halley says. Endura is presently labeled on sunflower, but a Quash sunflower label is not expected until the 2014 season. This strategy depends on a grower’s history of these diseases, the weather conditions, whether the field is irrigated or dryland, yield potential, hybrid tolerance and planting date. Some seed companies do rate their hybrids for tolerance to Phomopsis. Halley has observed that the best chance for Phomopsis disease development at his northeastern North Dakota location is on early planted sunflower . “We planted the rust nursery in mid-May and had good Phomopsis infection. We planted another study specifically to evaluate Phomopsis in early June, complete with inoculum, and had almost no Phomopsis disease,” he reports. Halley does believe fungicides play a role in controlling Phomopsis. — Larry Kleingartner  ■

THE SUNFLOWER  January 2012











Groundbreaking Sun Oil Being Introduced Omega-9 Sunflower Oil from Dow AgroSciences Expected to Hit Retail Shelves Within Three Years


here’s no question that Americans have a love affair with fat in their diet. But because of constant and persistent warnings from dieticians and the government, consumers are keenly aware of the negative impacts of saturated and trans fats on health and obesity. Plant geneticists have been pumping out new oilseed genetics with lower saturates and higher oleic acids. Food companies have made real efforts to reduce the amount of trans and saturated fatty acids in processed products. The high-oleic sunflower development decreased saturated fatty acids in the oil by 30% when compared to traditional sunflower oil. But work has been ongoing to reduce saturates further. This past summer, Indianapolisbased Dow AgroSciences unveiled its “industryfirst” trans and saturated fat-free Omega-9 Sunflower Oil. Omega-9 Sunflower Oil offers what you might call the “one-two punch” for the food industry: very low saturated fat with no effect on taste or functionality. For food manufacturers seeking solutions to meet increasing customer demand for healthier products, Omega-9 Sunflower Oil is one of the healthiest oils available. This new oil is primarily oleic (omega9) acid with total saturates of 3% or less. This gives the oil a high level of stability for food manufacturers. Food formulations will not require antioxidants or partial hydrogenation to achieve the desired shelf life, thus allowing for a cleaner ingredient label. Because Omega-9 Sunflower Oil is so low in saturates, most food company formulations will be able to claim “zero saturated fat” on the front of the label. The oil will begin to appear on retail shelves and in product formulations within the next three years.


Recent concept research found consumers preferred, by a five-to-one margin, a saturated fat-free label claim on a retail bottle of oil over the same product labeled without the claim. “This can truly impact purchasing behavior at the grocery store. It’s pretty amazing to offer an oil that’s virtually all ‘good’ fat,” explains David Dzisiak, commercial leader-grains & oils for Dow AgroSciences. Omega-9 Sunflower Oil is all natural and can support an all-natural package claim, as the oil comes from NEXERA™ seeds that were developed by Dow AgroSciences through traditional plant breeding. The traits are created and then put into highly productive hybrid varieties already in the company’s breeding lines. “We’re making progress converting existing leading hybrids,” says Dzisiak. “It’s an ongoing process, and we’re very confident that we’ll have strong material with a good agronomic package that growers are looking for.” John Kalthoff, sunflower marketing specialist with Mycogen Seeds, says there are two hybrids that are leading the pack right now as the company continues introgression of the trait back into their top lines. “Of the two promising hybrids, one is mid-maturity for Group 3 (regions of middle North Dakota and South Dakota), and the other is later maturity for Group 4 (southern North Dakota, South Dakota and the High Plains),” Kalthoff explains. “We are very pleased with the yield. Both are performing very well, similar to our conventional high-oleic products.” The two hybrids appear to have the “complete package” with solid oil content. Kalthoff says more testing across varied environments needs to take place, however,

THE SUNFLOWER  January 2012

before oil contents can be more accurately determined. Though small-scale testing has been ongoing for years, Kalthoff says the next step will be large-scale planting trials this spring where people will have a chance to see the hybrids’ performance and for the company to verify that the qualities desired are present in the field. Kalthoff adds that they anticipate planting seed will be available for grower contracts for spring 2013 in very limited quantities. Both Kalthoff and Dzisiak say there has been great interest in the oil from the end user. Whether Dow will release parent material to other companies down the road, will be determined by demand. That decision is a ways off. As the breeding process progresses, Dzisiak says food manufacturers are testing and sampling new products using the prototype oil, which can be time consuming. While the process is lengthy, the end result will be assisting consumers in making healthier choices to improve their diets — while still enjoying the food they love. “We’re excited about it,” Dzisiak adds. “We’re confident the oil will be successful in the marketplace.” Consumers will continue to love fat in their diet, but they are “learning” to de-

Fatty Acid Profiles of Sunflower Oils

Source: To be published IFT book on novel oils.

mand products that use healthy oils without compromising taste. Omega-9 Sunflower Oil won’t replace other products entirely, but now there’s an option for the first product in the world that qualifies for the “zero saturated fat” claim. It will be seen more as a specialty item and less mainstream.

The sunflower industry is always looking for ways of finding exclusive and premium markets. The more unique an oil for the marketplace, the better potential there is for producers — and the better potential there is in competing with other commodities for acres. — Sonia Mullally ■ © Archer Daniels Midland Company

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With NuSun® and ADM Call ADM in Enderlin at 800-553-6032, or in Goodland at 800-542-7333.


NuSun® is a registered trademark of the National Sunflower Association.

THE SUNFLOWER  January 2012


Spudniks Canadian Company Takes Potato Chips in New Direction

Despite the number of potato chips already on the market, Spudniks stands out amongst the competition. Spudniks chips are lighter and less greasy. They use a blend of oils including sunflower that is sourced from the U.S. The retail bags are hand-seasoned and hand-packaged so are not half empty of product. Michele Revivo recently offered some insights into the upstart company’s unique product. — Sonia Mullally

Clearly, potato chips are a favorite snack of millions of people all over North America. What makes you stand out among the crowded field of potato chips? The main reason that makes Spudniks different is that they are hand-seasoned and hand-packaged and served warm and fresh to our customers by means of our “chip theatres” through a cart, retail kiosk or as a retail inline store front. One of our main businesses is to package our 10-lb. “bulk unseasoned” traditional flat or kettle chips in our Spudniks cases and ship them to various locations across North America to operators that want to season and package fresh themselves. Our foodservice business allows us to hand season our 10-lb. “bulk seasoned” format both in either traditional flat or kettle to restaurants and bars so they can offer Spudniks chips as a “perfect” side option to any meal. We pride ourselves on being a freshseasoned, served-warm potato chip. We don’t want to be just another off-the-shelf product. There are no additives in our product, no preservatives and no MSG in any of our seasonings. Photos: Spudniks

Can you explain the concept of the Chip Theatre?


very time you turn around, it seems there’s another new potato chip on the market. After a while, they all tend to appear the same. But Spudniks, a Canadianbased company, may just be able to change what you think about the “same old” potato chip. Founded by Michele and Jessy Revivo, the company was created in their search for a unique new product to offer their catering and event clients, a new spin to the traditional potato chip, a brand new potato chip concept was born. In 2004 the duo began offering their


product through “chip theatres” — mobile carts at which the Spudniks chips were tossed and seasoned fresh in front of customers with customized flavor blends, developed with no MSG, and served warm in grab-and-go “Snak Pak” bags. With the overwhelming response to their new concept, the Revivos opened their first retail “chip theatre” in several AAA malls in Ontario, seasoning and packaging fresh for customers. By the following year, Spudniks were appearing in retail bags (140 gram, 5-oz size) at a number of high-end independent grocers.

The words “chip theatres” came about because we felt that we were entertaining our customers and creating a “theatrical” experience for them while we toss our chips within our stainless steel bowls. Our “chip theatres” come in different formats, either as a mobile cart or countertop unit, as an enclosed kiosk or a fixed inline store (counter top unit) equipped with everything needed to toss and season the chips and serve them fresh in front of the customer. We have many carts and kiosks throughout North America that our customers use at different locations to cater events. For instance, we have them at trade shows, fairs, festivals and at amusement parks. The customer purchases the on-site equipment and buys the product from us.

THE SUNFLOWER  January 2012

Can you describe how they are cooked?

Where is your product available?

Our chips are cooked in small continuous batches, so we make Spudniks chips as we need. They’re always fresh. Ours aren’t as oily as they are not immersed in oil for as long of a period of time. We have our traditional flat chips and the kettle cooked variety, which are cooked in a batch fryer.

In addition to our carts and kiosks, we have several retail store locations in Calgary, Ontario and working on Edmonton with plans of expanding with several more stores in the upcoming year. We also have a U.S. counterpart for our products located in Utah, that will focus on growing the U.S. market with locations including Hawaii, Utah and California. We focus on smaller, high-end grocery stores for retail locations.

Spudniks are cooked in a blend of oils including sunflower oil. Why sunflower oil? Clearly, when we started this project we were looking for a healthier oil. Ideally, we would have liked to go 100% sunflower oil, but learned it was cost prohibitive. It’s something we are always watching, and if it was cost effective we would make the switch to all sunflower oil in the future for the obvious health benefits. Several reasons led us to sunflower oil in the first place–those being the fact that it’s more natural, non-GMO, lighter in appearance and taste as well as maximum frying performance. We also considered the allergen factor. We are certified kosher, and no MSG is in any of our seasoning flavors which is important for us. We also have gluten-free varieties. What makes your flavoring process unique? I spent two years pretty much devoted to developing our unique flavors which we now have 15. Because our chips are seasoned fresh through our process, the seasonings were developed to adhere to the potato chip instantly. Much of my time was spent researching the science and chemistry behind binding the seasoning to the chip, not just sprinkling it on like other brands. When our bulk customers buy our seasoned fresh chips, the shelf life is 90 days from when the box is closed. Once the box is opened the shelf life goes to 30 days because there are no preservatives.

What’s on the horizon for your company?

Michele Revivo is a co-founder of the Canadian-based Spudniks company.

flavor character when they are making their selection. Where did the Spudniks name come from? The inspiration is just what you think it was—the Russian-made satellite that was first to be put into Earth's orbit and credited for starting the Space Age. Our tagline was “Freshness That’s Outta This World.” I’m not even sure what came first the catch phrase or the imagery of Sputnik. So we put our own spin on it with Spudniks for potatoes, of course. We even have characters— Spud (a dog) and Nik (a boy) —that serve as our mascots.

We just launched a product here in Canada called Spoutine (Spudniks Kettle Chip Poutine). In Canada, Poutine is very popular and we wanted to create our own spin on this very popular concept. It features our kettle chips with gravy, cheese and other yummy toppings like beef chili, sour cream, chives, and tomatoes. We offer four different types of Spoutine: The Classic, The Veggie, The Mexican and The Works! It’s going over very well so far. Another product, to be launched shortly are our new SpudBits. Essentially, it’s just what it sounds like. It’s bits of Spudniks chips that are seasoned and packaged fresh and will be sold in bulk. They can be used as a topping/garnish or coating for anyone looking to add a “flavored crunch”, for example, as a batter for fish or chicken. We are also working on diving more into the snack corn industry focusing on what we do best—offering a fresh-seasoned, served-warm product. We are now offering fresh-seasoned kettle corn, caramel and maple popcorn. For more information on Spudniks products, visit They also can be found on Facebook at and on Twitter at @Spudniks. ■

What are your most popular flavors? Overall, our Sea Salt and Salt & Malt Vinegar are the most popular. In Canada, the clear favorite is Kool Ketchup. In the U.S., our customers tend to like the stronger, bolder varieties like Bleu Cheese & Chicken Wings or Southern Smokin’ Spice. Not only does our brand have a mascot, each of our flavors does as well. Each flavor has a character to go with it. For instance, we don’t just have pickle flavor, we have Delirious Dill Pickle featuring a slightly crazy-looking pickle with personality. We find that children, in particular, find this appealing. We have magnets to adhere to the bowls that the chips are seasoned in and the children can easily recognize the

THE SUNFLOWER  January 2012


30 Years Ago Excerpts from the January 1982 Issue of The Sunflower

Flower Power Ends First Year — “Twelve tractors participating in the field testing of sun oil-blended fuel accumulated more than 6,500 hours of operating time in 1981, according to Flower Power, Inc., the North Dakota nonprofit organization coordinating the test. Eleven of the 12 are still involved in the experiment. One tractor, operating on a 50 percent sun oil blend, experienced excessive blow-by and stuck compression rings and dropped out of the testing program. It appears this failure was due to a polymerization of the sunflower oil caused by an inferior grade of lubricating oil. “The onset of colder temperatures this past fall brought very few problems with engine starting or filter blockage due to increased viscosity (thickness of the oil). It appears the 25 and 50 percent blends did not initiate viscosity problems. “The tractor engines have now been partially disassembled and evaluated for deposits and wear.” Sunflower Outlook: The ’80s / Allen Housh, vice president, Processing Group-Sunflower/Flax/Peanuts, Cargill, Inc. — “The simple fact is that sunflower oil, right now, is not competitive with the world’s major edible oil, which is soybean oil. If we are to build our domestic market, if we are to exploit the potential for new markets in such countries as India and Pakistan, we must make sunflower oil competitive — and I think we can. “We must generate a consistently higher revenue per acre for sunflower seed. That’s the key. That will allow sunflower oil to


compete with the alternate crops to become more competitive with the price of oil in both foreign and domestic markets. “Can this be achieved? I believe it can. There’s a good future in the sunflower crop for the producer and the processor, but it’s going to take a lot of work on everyone’s part to get there. And it’s not going to happen overnight. “The processors have demonstrated that they have confidence in this future. Cargill, ADM and Honeymead already have invested in crushing capacity that currently needs one million metric tons of sunflower seed a year. But only about 600,000 tons are available, because of the two million tons being produced, 1.4 million tons are being exported. And another 500,000 tons of seed per year will be needed next year as two new plants go on stream — Midwest Processing at Velva and National Sun Industries at Enderlin, N.D.” Semi-Dwarf Hybrids: A Promising Future? / Don Lilleboe — “Dwarf sunflower hybrids are now being actively developed by several companies, and other firms are also taking a look at the long-term potential of dwarfs. “Actually, the term ‘dwarf’ may be somewhat of a misnomer. Researchers seem to prefer terms such as ‘semi-dwarf’ or ‘reducedheight hybrid’ when describing the shorter-than-normal hybrids they’re currently working with. “I look at a ‘dwarf’ as being greatly reduced in height from normal height. But then you have to ask, ‘What’s a normal height?’ ” remarks Dr. Freeman Johnson, vice president-research for Red River Commodities, Fargo, N.D. It should be recalled that compared to some of the old open-pollinated varieties such as Peredovik, current hybrids — 894 types being an example — are significant shorter. . . . “Among those breeders most actively pursuing semi-dwarf development at this moment, there are some common priorities: (1) an emphasis on less height — at least 15 to 20 percent shorter than ‘normal height’ hybrids; (2) a concurrence that true dwarfness is a genetically, not environmentally, determined factor; (3) a major advantage of dwarfness being a reduced susceptibility to lodging due to shorter height and better stalk strength; and (4) that the semidwarfs being developed must, in order to be feasible, be at least equivalent to conventional height hybrids in terms of yield, oil content and disease resistance. “ ‘The dwarfs we’re working with in this area are about two feet shorter than the standard types — standard referring to 894 or hybrids closely related to it,’ says Dr. G.N. Fick, research director for SIGCO Research, Breckenridge, Minn. ‘In terms of height, we’re talking three to four feet tall under optimum conditions.’. . . “Johnson’s definition of a dwarf or semi-dwarf sunflower hybrid emphasizes ‘a shortening of the distance between internodes’ — points at which the leaves attach to the stem.” Standard Sought for Evaluation of Seed Vigor — “Even sunflower seed with a high germination percentage may result in a poor field stand if the seed is not vigorous. Currently, however, there are no standard tests used to evaluate vigor in sunflower seed, says Dr. Albert Schneiter, agronomist at North Dakota State University. “ ‘We are trying to establish some type of a standard for evaluating seed vigor so that a few years from now a producer may buy seed with both a vigor rating and a percent germination,’ Schneiter notes. ‘Germination tests simply indicate how many seeds are alive and do not necessarily relate well to how the seed will perform during emergence.’ ” Duluth/Superior Year-End Stats — “Duluth/Superior terminals shipped out more sunflower seed in 1981 than in 1980, according to the Seaway Port Authority of Duluth. The port closed out 1981 at 1,327,300 metric tons, compared to 1,249,018 metric tons in 1980. . . . The December 1981 total was 230,375 tons, while in December of 1980 only 141,313 metric tons of sunflower seed left Duluth/Superior for overseas markets.” ■

THE SUNFLOWER  January 2012





The Biggest News Under The Sun

Maximize your investment with Pioneer® brand sunflower hybrid 63N82 with the DuPont™ ExpressSun® trait. It’s a non-transgenic gene which provides tolerance to postemergence applications of DuPont™ Express® herbicide with TotalSol® soluble granules. Use it for post control of problem weeds including:  Wild mustard  Redroot pigweed  Canada thistle

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DuPont™, Express®, ExpressSun® and TotalSol® are trademarks or registered trademarks of DuPont or its affiliates. ®

NuSun is a registered certification mark of the National Sunflower Association.


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The Sunflower Magazine - January 2012  

Inside This Issue: *NSA's Kleingartner Retires *Confection Development *2011 Crop Survey Report *Building New Hybrids *Omega-9 Sunflower Oil...

The Sunflower Magazine - January 2012  

Inside This Issue: *NSA's Kleingartner Retires *Confection Development *2011 Crop Survey Report *Building New Hybrids *Omega-9 Sunflower Oil...