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Book: Sunflower Science and Technology
Published by: American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America



  1.  p. i-xx
    Agronomy Monograph 19.
    Sunflower Science and Technology

    Jack F. Carter (ed.)

    ISBN: 978-0-89118-213-9

    unlockOPEN ACCESS

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Front Matter

Frontispiece. Top, a field of hybrid sunflower in North Dakota; bottom, a sunflower head visited by a bumblebee pollinator.



When I was a small boy in Tennessee, my grandmother planted a few sunflower seeds in the corner of the garden. She said they were planted for the three B's: beauty, bees, and birds. How those plants did grow. They held dominion over all other plants in the garden because of their size and beauty.

My next remembered encounter with sunflower came in an excellent restaurant in Shanghai, China, at the end of World War II. There I discovered that sunflower seeds were not just for birds, but a delicious toasted and salted hors d'oeuvre with the English translation of “time killer.” One needed a tough fingernail and patience to open them.

During graduate school I learned from Kansans that the sunflower was a state flower, originated in America, and occasionally was planted in large fields for commercial purposes. I was surprised in the 1960's suddenly to start hearing and reading about the high oil sunflower cultivars being developed and grown in the USSR and their introduction to Canada and the USA.

The sunflower might be described as the Golden Girl of American Agriculture. For the plant was native born, acclaimed first in foreign lands, and then returned home to a tumultuous welcome by both growers and researchers. This amazing saga of the sunflower has not yet ended.

The American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America are pleased to bring to you this monograph on an increasingly important world food crop. We express our deepest appreciation to Editor Jack Carter and the many authors and reviewers for contributing their expertise and time.

Madison, Wisconsin

February 1978



American Society of Agronomy

General Foreword

Publication of this Sunflower Monograph is evidence of the growing importance of this crop to agronomy and crop science in the USA. This book has been evolving for several years, from the inception of the idea for a monograph, its suggestion to the Society's Monograph Committee, and now to its materialization into book form by the industrious members of the editorial committee and their able chairman, Dr. Jack Carter.

The editors and authors of this book contributed vast efforts to produce it. Together with their coauthors, and with the assistance of reviewers, a splendid text was written to describe the current status of sunflower research, and the historical significance, taxonomy, production, pests, and various other aspects of this important crop.

Sunflower Science and Technology is the 19th monograph in the series prepared by the American Society of Agronomy since 1949. The first six volumes were published by Academic Press, Inc., of New York, but since 1957 the society has become the publisher. A complete list of the titles in the series may be found among these first pages. The monographs represent a significant and continuing activity of the American Society of Agronomy, its officers, and its approximately 10,000 members located in 100 countries around the world.

The American Society of Agronomy is associated with the Crop Science Society of America and the Soil Science Society of America. The societies share many objectives and activities in promoting these branches of agriculture and scientific disciplines. Members of the societies contribute generously of their time and talents in producing various publications, including monographs, and in pursuing other activities in the interest of human welfare.

Sunflower Science and Technology is the first monograph cosponsored by the three societies under a new agreement by these organizations. The book should be of great interest and benefit to researchers, teachers, students, producers, and other users. The societies consider it as one of their major contributions to mankind because of the worldwide adaptation of sunflower as a field crop and its growing importance in the USA. Through the presentation of up-to-date scientific and practical material on this subject, the societies aim to make sunflower an even more useful and widely grown crop for the benefit of all people.

In behalf of the society members and myself in particular, I sincerely thank Dr. Carter for his successful performance as editor, the editorial committee members, the many authors, Domenic Fuccillo, managing editor, and all others who have contributed directly or indirectly to the accomplishments of this worthy project.

Madison, Wisconsin

April 1978



ASA Publications


The colorful, single-headed sunflower of the Frontispiece is a valuable and useful cousin of the native sunflower of North America. The native sunflower was distributed widely across the Central Plains from north to south and occurred rarely in much of the rest of the continent. The wide genetic diversity of sunflower is still available in the indigenous populations, although population density and dispersion is decreased with increased pressure of cultivation and urbanization, grazing by animals, etc. The native sunflower was used by natives of North America, and archaeological evidence indicates large headed types with large seeds existed many centuries ago. Sunflower was used for food in mixtures of cooked vegetables and in food “concentrates” by some native Americans of the Plains.

Sunflower was taken to Europe and Asia in the 16th century and spread widely from west to east as an ornamental plant and as kitchen garden food. It was selected first for large head and large seed types as a food crop. Later, plant breeding techniques were used in the USSR and adjacent countries to produce types with high oil percentage. Sunflower has become the major annual oilseed crop of the USSR and other countries, including Argentina.

The nonoilseed, confectionery, or food type sunflower was brought back to North America by immigrants and cultivated in the Northern Plains of North America. Sunflower has been grown in the Northern Great Plains of the USA and in the Prairie Provinces of Canada for the last century. Production areas fluctuated, but they were economically nonsignificant until recent years. The introduction of the high oil types from the USSR, e.g., ‘Peredovik,’ into Canada and then on to the USA, and favorable prices for the oilseed sunflower for export mainly has led to sunflower production of about 910,000 ha in the USA and 67,000 ha in Canada in 1977. Interest for domestic use of sunflower oil as an edible salad and cooking oil, and in manufactured products, because of its high unsaturation, is increasing. The production first of improved, disease resistant, open-pollinated types, then true hybrids from cytoplasmic male sterility/fertility restorer techniques in the last 5 to 10 years has made sunflower economically competitive with other crops. Recent surpluses of other crops in the Northern Plains of North America have increased the competitiveness of sunflower in 1977 and apparently for 1978.

The Monograph Committee of the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America and the Executive Committee of the societies considered the preparation of a Sunflower Monograph for several years prior to authorizing its writing. Sunflower has become much more important as a crop during the period of planning and writing of the monograph, reaching approximately 910,000 ha in 1977 in the USA, most of which is oilseed sunflower. The production of sunflower is expected to increase further in 1978.

Since sunflower was an extremely minor crop in North America until a few years ago, only a few plant and soil scientists had conducted research on the crop. Botanists such as Charles B. Heiser, Jr., and taxonomists had conducted the major studies about sunflower and provided the only detailed publications, except for the pioneering research of Eric D. Putt and associates in Canada. Only a few scientists were available to write about sunflower in this monograph. Authors from public and private agencies, who were distributed geographically as much as possible, were chosen to represent the various disciplines.

This first Sunflower Monograph in English is designed to cover the historical aspects of the crop and the species, the economic and food function of the crop, the usefulness of the products from sunflower, problems of production and efforts made to improve sunflower, and its expected position in commerce in North America and the world in the future. The monograph is written to appeal to a wide audience in North America and to those involved in sunflower production, merchandizing, processing, and sunflower improvement throughout the world.

The great contribution of writing and personal time by authors, the editorial committee, and outside reviewers is acknowledged. Also acknowledged is the special secretarial and other assistance of Mrs. Elaine Dobrinz, Agronomy Department, North Dakota State University, Fargo. The Editorial Committee and the societies also recognize the willingness of the various public and private agencies to permit the authors and editorial committee to devote many hours of time to literature search, writing, and editorial activities to produce this Sunflower Monograph. Lastly, the counsel and advice of Domenic Fuccillo, managing editor, and of the staff at Society Headquarters at Madison, Wisconsin, is acknowledged, as well as the financial assistance of ASA, CSSA, and SSSA for various costs of the Editor.

Fargo, North Dakota

January 1978



JACK F. CARTER: B.S., University of Nebraska; M.S., Washington State University; Ph.D., University of Wisconsin; Professor and Chairman, Agronomy Department, North Dakota State University (NDSU), Fargo, editor of publications on sunflower and administrator in sunflower research programs by USDA-NDSU in North Dakota.


JEROME F. BESSER, Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Interior, Building 16, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225

JACK F. CARTER, Agronomy Department, North Dakota State University, Fargo, NO 58102

DAVID W. COBIA, Agricultural Economics, North Dakota State University, Fargo, NO 58102

D. GORDON DORRELL, Agriculture Canada, Research Station, Box 3301, Morden, Manitoba ROG 1J0

HARRY O. DOTY, JR., Economics, Statistics, and Cooperatives Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 20250

GERHARDT N. FICK, SIGCO Sunflower Products, Box 150, Breckenridge, MN 56520

CHARLES B. HEISER, JR., Botany Department, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47401

HARVEY J. HIRNING, Agricultural Engineering Department, North Dakota State University, Fargo, NO 58102

JOHN A. HOES, Agriculture Canada, Research Station, Box 3301, Morden, Manitoba ROG 1J0

VERNON L. HOFMAN, Agricultural Engineering Department, North Dakota State University, Fargo, NO 58102

PAULDEN F. KNOWLES, Department of Agronomy, University of California, Davis, CA 95616

JAMES R. LOFGREN, Dahlgren, Inc., Crookston, MN 56716

DARNELL R. LUNDSTROM, Agricultural Engineering Department, North Dakota State University, Fargo, NO 58102

ERIC D. PUTT, Agriculture Canada, Research Station, Box 3301, Morden, Manitoba ROG 1J0

ROBERT G. ROBINSON, Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108

RONALD T. SCHULER, Agricultural Engineering Department, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108

J. T. SCHULZ, Department of Entomology, North Dakota State University, Fargo, NO 58102

DONALD L. SMITH, Call/West Seeds, P. O. Box 1428, Woodland, CA 95696

ERNEST D. P. WHELAN, Agriculture Canada, Research Station, Lethbridge, Alberta T1J4B1

DAVID E. ZIMMER, Science and Education Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Coastal Plains, Research Station, Tifton, GA 31794



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