Brighten your day with the amazing sunflower
North Dakota isn’t a stranger to brightly colored crops that reach the peak of the growing season in mid-summer. If you are on the road at that time and into the fall, take time to look around.
Vast fields of flax take on a bluish-purple hue; canola radiates with bright yellow buds that stretch to the endless blue sky; soybeans vine out into a sea of green; and wheat goes through various stages of green and golden brown before the harvest in the fall. Flax – which can appear as water in the distance – and canola bloom in late June through July.
Nothing, however, compares to the amazing sunflower.
Perched atop strong stalks and shining bright yellow towards the rising sun, the heads appear as millions of individual suns heralding the start of another day in North Dakota. Perhaps they play a role in North Dakota’s high ranking among the happiest states in the nation. After all, you can’t help but smile when you come upon the large fields scattered throughout the state.
Where do you find them? Pretty much everywhere, but not in the same place each year. Growers rotate crops as a way to manage and maintain soil health and fertility. What is a wheat field this year, may be a sunflower field next year.
But let’s get back to sunflowers. North Dakota Tourism often receives calls from soon-to-be fiances wanting to know where to find sunflower fields as a location to pop the question. The best time to do so varies, as their peak colors depend on planting and weather, but usually late July to early and mid-August. Most landowners don’t mind visitors stopping to look at the fields as long as they are respectful and don’t enter or drive into the fields.
It’s here that sunflower seeds originated, and it's also the ingredient for other delicacies like the North Dakota sunflower pie. North Dakota leads the nation in sunflower production and its uses include bird feed, confectionery seeds, sun butter and sunflower oil.
- North Dakota is one of the top producers of sunflowers in the country.
- Sunflowers stand an average of 5-6 feet tall.
- They’re big! A sunflower head can be bigger than your own.
- Sunflowers have more than more in common with the sun than just looks. Sunflower oil is also an excellent source of vitamin D.
- Sunflowers are a delicious substitution for peanut allergies. Check out SunButter products made out of Fargo and “Go Seeds, Not Nuts!”
- Young sunflowers will follow the sun as it crosses the sky. They start to face downward when they mature and seeds start to weigh them down.
- Sunflower heads can hold up to 2,000 separate seeds.
- There are two types of sunflower seeds. These are oil seeds and non-oil seeds. Oil seeds are used to make sunflower oil that is great for skin care, cooking and medicines. Non-oil seeds are for snacking on those long road trips. Grab some of your own while enjoying fields at our sunflower seeds mailboxes!
- Sunflowers are actually made of thousands of tiny disc florets that all join together at the base.
- Sunflowers are not genetically modified (non GMO).
- Ukrainian culture runs deep in North Dakota and coincidentally they’re a staple part of their national culture as well. The sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine and it’s embedded in their national folklore, art and songs.
- Gardeners can choose from dozens or ornamental varieties. There are even red sunflowers!