Development of Long-Type Confection Sunflower Hybrids (2018-2023)

The NSAC applied for continued funding towards the confection sunflower variety development program for an additional five years through the Diverse Field Crops Cluster. The Diverse Fields Crops Cluster is an agriscience cluster that supports the research and development of high -potential emerging crops: flax, camelina, canaryseed, sunflower, hemp, quinoa and mustard. On January 15, 2019 Minister Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) announced over $13 million in funding from AAFC through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership’s AgriScience Program. This investment, combined with industry contributions of nearly $11 million, brings the value of the cluster to over $24 million.

The NSAC was approved for matching funding over the five years at a total of $2.467 million dollars towards our variety development project. An investment of $1.233 million in funding from AAFC through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership’s AgriScience Program under the Diverse Field Crops Cluster, $235,125 over three years from Manitoba Agriculture through the CAP—Research & Innovation project (must re-apply in 2021) and $320,650 from Western Grain Research Foundation.



The overall objective of this research is to increase the profitability of growing sunflowers for Canadian producers.  The first step in meeting the goal is to develop long-type confection hybrids with herbicide and disease resistance that have the seed type and quality demanded by the processing industry that can be successfully grown in Manitoba and expanded across Canada.

The project will be broken down into two activities:

  1. Summer and Winter Breeding Nurseries
  2. Canadian Testing Program

1.       Summer and Winter Breeding Nurseries

To develop elite parent lines, possessing genes for tolerance to sulfonylurea herbicide (SU-7: non-transgenic), rust (R12) and downy mildew (PLARG) to provide a competitive production advantage to existing hybrids.
2.       Canadian Testing Program

Produce testing seed, test and isolate adaptable confection sunflower hybrids for Canadian production that are high yielding and lodging resistant with improved dark, long type seed with shoulder width that are resistant to sulfonylurea herbicide, rust and downy mildew.


In 2018, material from the project was tested in 9 trials; 3 of which were in larger scale, field strip trials. The 2018 nursery included the 3 advanced lines selected from the 2017 nursery in addition to 132 new preliminary hybrids. The 3 advanced lines were also tested in the Variety Performance Trials (VPT), with the better 1 being tested in larger field trials with producers. It was a dry start to the spring season causing some variability in emergence, especially with the larger seeded confectionary types. The season was a warm one.

NSAC 2018 Data results – Variety Performance Trials

Harvest was slowed up with late fall rain and snow. In the end 12 selections were made from the 2018 trials based upon the data that was collected. Seed type, test weight, maturity and yield were just a few of the data used to make the selections.

Plans are already underway for the Canadian trials for 2019, with the winter nursery in bloom now in Chile. There will be 90-100 new preliminary hybrids; 12 selected hybrids moving into the Advanced Yield Trials (AYT); 2-3 hybrids being tested in the Variety Performance Trials; and 1 hybrid will be tested in a larger field scale trial. About 1/3 of the new preliminary hybrids will be fixed with double resistant genes for Downy Mildew and Rust. All the material will be herbicide tolerant.


IMG_5179 2018 Harvest Nursery
Image 1.Planting Nursery – May 2018 Image 2. 2018 Nursery Harvest


2018 Seed Selection Inside cage 2
Image 3. Hybrid Selection – November 2019 Image 4. Winter Nursery – Cage multiplication

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