Sunflower Marks Plant Collection MilestoneBy
The nations National
Plant Germplasm System has reached another milestone, with the
entry of a sunflower named Sunburst as the systems 600,000th
plant introduction. A ceremony
celebrating the addition is scheduled to be held today in
NPGS, a cooperative program among private, state, federal and
international agencies, maintains the germplasm and holds key
information on the seeds and cuttings from plants around the world.
The collection includes more than 1,400 plant genera.
Helianthus, which includes sunflower, is the only genus
originating in the U.S. to become one of the 20 major world crops.
Sunflower, grown mainly for its high-quality oil, ranks among the top
four oilseed crops worldwide. Catalogued PI 600000 in the systems
Information Network (GRIN) computer database, Sunburst joins
more than 3,800 other sunflower accessions described on the World Wide
Web at http://www.ars-grin.gov/npgs.
Plant breeders use the database to find plants with traits such as
drought tolerance and disease resistance.
The new sunflowers shorter-than-normal height and profuse
branching promotes high yield and helps keep the plant from falling
over. It was developed by researchers at USDAs
Service and the North Dakota State Agricultural Experiment
Station at Fargo, N.D.
Besides potentially serving crop breeders needs, Sunburst has
aesthetic traits to attract breeders of ornamentals for home gardens.
Its first small yellow flower appears on its main head about 62 days
after planting, and for 10 to 15 more days it continues blooming on
its many branches. Sunburst also can be used to produce hybrids that
typically grow about 2-1/2 feet wide but less than 6 feet tall.
Plants and seeds come into the NPGS via ARS
Germplasm Resources Laboratory at Beltsville, Md., or one of 24
other NPGS sites. In 1997, more than 103,000 items of NPGS plant
material were sent to 91 countries.
Scientific contacts: Edward J. Garvey, ARS
Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Md., phone (301)
504-7511, fax (301) 504-6305, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Jerry F. Miller, ARS Red
River Valley Agricultural Research Center, Fargo, N. D., phone
(701) 239-1321, fax (701) 239-1346,