An Old Standby Returns
Sunflowers have been a part of Pfz Farms since 1975. We have raised both confection and oil type. Confection type are the striped seeds that you eat in the shell, the problem with them is the insects like to eat them, too. Oil type are the solid black seeds that is sold for birdseed and it is also pressed for sunflower oil. The advantage that oil seeds have is that pests really don't like to eat them but bees love them. Bees will actually produce more honey per acre with oil sunflowers and with the bees the sunflowers will yield 30% more than without bees. The oil produced has a high temperature smoke point and is very healthy with a light nutty flavor favored by cooks. The seeds are around forty percent oil and the meal left after pressing is rich in energy and used as livestock feed.
When we started raising sunflowers a neighbor stopped and asked, "What are you planting?" The reply, "Sunflowers." The neighbor asked, "Why?" The response was, "Look what is growing wild in the ditch, do you see wheat? Corn? Millet?" "No." was the reply. "Do you see sunflowers?" "Yes." "Well that is why we raise them." Sunflowers work well in Northeast Colorado, they love the heat and are not bothered by cold. They are drought resistant and have an extensive root system that can penetrate a hard soil layers that are a result of tillage. In our no-till farming the roots open up the soil and allow heavy rains to be absorbed instead of running off and causing erosion. They will also bring up nutrients that are beyond the reach of other crops, this allows the nutrients to be available in future years.
We stopped raising sunflowers about ten years ago. We were in the middle of a drought and sunflowers draw a lot of water with their extensive root system. We are now raising a different rotation of crops and so sunflowers are back. They bloom in the middle of August and we welcome you to come visit the field during bloom to take pictures or pick a flower to take home with a free will donation. News to when bloom is happening will be posted on our Facebook Page so follow us there. We are working on offering fresh pressed oil and birdseed this fall so check back for availability.