Sunflowers a choice for some area farmers
Sunflowers aren’t the most popular crop choice among area farmers, but the state flower does have devoted growers.
Jeff Naysmith, agronomist for Cooperative Grain and Supply, said the co-op sells seeds, but demand for them is far lower than demand for wheat and corn.
“I’d be surprised if we sold more than 60 or 70 acres of sunflowers this year,” Naysmith said. “That’s probably down from the year previous.”
Naysmith said most sunflower growers have raised the crop before.
Sunflowers are a fairly flexible crop that can be planted as early May or as late as August, he said.
Harvest can begin in July for early planters, and run as late as December for crops planted late in the season.
Sunflowers can be grown in alternation with wheat after harvest, but doing that requires forethought, Naysmith said.
“The herbicide we typically use on wheat can cause severe injury to sunflowers,” Naysmith said. “You’ve got to plan ahead.”
Taking sunflowers to an elevator might not be as easy as wheat or corn.
“There are a few places around that you can take them,” he said. “It may not be the elevator that’s closest to you.”
Naysmith said sunflowers are usually taken far away for processing, typically to a facility in Sherman County.
Cooperative Grain and Supply took in a few 100,000 pounds of sunflowers last year.
“It’s a fairly small amount,” Naysmith said.
Naysmith also said oil sunflowers is a more common crop in the region than confectionary sunflowers.
Statistics from the Kansas Department of Agriculture show the state ranked fifth in the nation for sunflower production in 2016, producing 82.6 million pounds. Farmers planted 633,000 acres of sunflowers that year.
In terms of acres planted, wheat, sorghum, corn, soybeans, and oats came in ahead of sunflowers, but sunflowers beat barley, cotton, dry beans, and potatoes.
Last modified Oct. 12, 2017