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Looking Up & Down the Pipeline

Meeting Growers' Needs

Nuseed’s top sunflower experts share how they keep abreast of growers’ evolving needs and provide insights on corresponding breeding priorities.

Meeting growers’ needs now and in the future is top of mind in all of Nuseed’s breeding pipelines, including sunflowers. “It’s an exciting time for sunflowers,” says Jeremy Klumper, Nuseed’s Oilseed Sunflower Breeder for the northern hemisphere. “Nuseed’s sunflower research and development group continues to lead in addressing evolving developments with this crop in terms of agronomics, processor demands and new opportunities.

“We are committed to both keeping pace with, and anticipating, growers’ needs, and we do that by keeping in close contact with commercial growers. Our team is constantly seeking out grower feedback. At the same time, we also share with growers the latest findings on best practices like rotation and timely use of insecticides,” he says.

Nuseed also gathers feedback through grower field days and “Knowledge Plots” held by Nuseed’s U.S. sunflower seed distributor, Legend Seeds. “In addition, every second year, we hold our ‘Sunflower University’ event,” explains Alison Pokrzywinski, Nuseed’s Sunflower Product Development Manager for North America. “At this event, we ask growers about their needs and recent cropping experiences, and bring in industry experts to help growers take it to the next level.”

Pokrzywinski adds that the Sunflower Crop Survey conducted by the National Sunflower Association, to which Nuseed often provides volunteers, is another good source of information for Nuseed on recurring issues and trends in the field. Nuseed also has R&D trial sites scattered throughout the Dakotas, which is also helpful. “We can bring in growers and processors to show them our new hybrids,” says Pokrzywinski. “This provides a lot of value and opportunity to gather feedback.”

With a niche crop like sunflowers, it’s critical for Nuseed to have strong relationships with processors as well as growers. As the specifications for the confectionary (seed size and shape), bird seed (color and test weight) and oil crush (oleic and oil content) markets are always evolving, Nuseed makes sure to stay on top of them.

The Big Picture
In addition to taking grower feedback and market trends into account to guide its sunflower R&D, the Nuseed team also makes sure there is an overarching wider vision in place. “We are working to address how current trends could be moving so growers are ready for that,” Klumper explains. “It’s critical that our growers be ready for various scenarios in terms of pests, expansion of acreage in existing and new growing regions, and be able to adapt to market trends as quickly as possible.”

Thus, Nuseed is always working on multiple projects within its sunflower pipeline and expanding testing as hybrids approach commercialization so confidence is as high as possible about hybrid fit in terms of maturity and agronomic performance. “We continually strive to be sunflower market leaders, working to improve yield, agronomic performance, standability, insect resistance, disease tolerance and resistance, and to increase oil content above any other available seed,” says Klumper.

“We are laser-focused on the fact that for every 1% oil increase, there is a 2% premium to the grower. We want to continue to bring every opportunity forward for the grower to make more money.”