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Putting it to Work

Technologies and other trait integrations are helping Nuseed to excel in both the oilseed and confection sunflower markets. 

With breeding nurseries in Rothsay, Minn. and Sacramento, Calif., Nuseed is able to learn which lines will withstand harsh environments and accelerate seed increases in a more forgiving climate. 

“We do most of our research and early generation sunflower breeding on 55 acres in Rothsay. Those acres are divided between confection and oilseed,” says Erin Gerdes, Nuseed Confection Sunflower Breeder. “We also have breeding services in Sacramento; California’s growing environment is much nicer (than that of Rothsay). The reason that we do a lot of early germination work in Rothsay is because it’s a harsh environment, and it helps us select early for plants that are disease resistant and can withstand harsh growing conditions. If we did all of the work in California, we would have varieties that wouldn’t thrive in the Midwest.” 

Today, a major component of the breeding work Nuseed is doing focuses on sunflowers. Sunflowers are a non-GMO crop because herbicide tolerance has been established through years of selective breeding. Nuseed has introgressed the Clearfield®, Clearfield® Plus and ExpressSun® herbicide traits and downy mildew resistant traits into a number of hybrids to help growers manage weeds. 

Although Clearfield technology was initially adopted and sought out by growers, in the past five years, ExpressSun has gained popularity. The main drivers of this shift in demand are price and differing residuals. 

“ExpressSun doesn’t have the same residuals that Clearfield has, and it is a cheaper solution,” says Jeremy Klumper, a Nuseed Sunflower Breeder who heads up the oilseed sector for the company. “The downside to an ExpressSun system is that it doesn’t control certain weeds and grasses, but farmers can and do add a grass herbicide and the cost is still less than the other options. 

“ExpressSun does not cover cocklebur, but Clearfield doesn’t cover Russian thistle; there is considerable overlap in the products, and different management opportunities exist within each,” he says. 

Options are the number one reason Nuseed continues to work with all three: Clearfield, Clearfield Plus and ExpressSun. The company realizes that every farm has different weed control needs and Nuseed is committed to being able to provide solutions to the growing challenges their customers face. 

“A lot of the work that our lab has been doing is focused on the trait purity side of germplasm. In addition to working on herbicide traits, we are also working on oleic levels, disease resistance and other traits that we plan to integrate, or already have integrated, into our lines,” says Driver. “Having a lab on-site helps with turnaround time and allows us to have results and make decisions faster than some of our competitors.”