Sakata Develops New Downy Mildew Resistant Sunflower

Sakata Develops New Downy Mildew Resistant Sunflower

Sakata vincent-choice-sunflowerSakata Seed America has introduced a new cut flower variety that it says offers downy mildew resistance. ‘Vincent’s Choice Deep Orange DMR’ sunflower addresses the issue of downy mildew and the detrimental effect the disease has on crop yield and plant quality.

A new addition to the Vincent series developed by Sakata in 2009, ‘Vincent’s Choice Deep Orange DMR’ is “easy to grow and produces an abundance of high-quality cut flowers,” according to the company. It has a deep orange color and a bit more pointed petal form than the other varieties in the series (‘Vincent’s Choice’ and ‘Vincent’s Fresh’). It is resistant to more than 10 races of downy mildew that currently affect sunflower.

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DMR, or “downy mildew resistant,” allows this new variety to avoid the risk of lower yield from downy mildew that occurs especially under high humidity and 59°F to 77°F conditions.

“This is a major breakthrough for the industry, but particularly for growers,” says Jamie Kitz, Key Account Manager at Sakata. “With the onset of downy mildew as a major production issue came solutions like spraying chemicals, and the cost of labor and spraying machines associated with doing so. All of which come at a huge cost to the grower. This is a huge win for sunflower cut flower production.”

Downy mildew is a serious threat to sunflower production. When the crop is affected, a yellowish-green lesion is visible on the leaves. If symptoms progress, the stock will shrink and cannot reach sufficient plant height, resulting in production losses. In recent years, downy mildew damage is becoming a more serious problem for both oilseed and ornamental cut flower production. In severe cases, more than 50% of plants in a given field can be lost.

With the announcement, Sakata becomes the first breeder to develop a new variety of ornamental sunflower that solves this serious issue.