Farming North Dakota Sunflowers

Where to Find Sunflowers

WHERE TO FIND SUNFLOWERS

It’s officially my favorite time of the year…. the sunflowers are blooming!! If you’ve never experienced a field of sunflowers, let me tell you, do it. It is worth it. There is something truly magical about coming across a field of blooming yellow sunflowers as far as the eye can see. And North Dakota is a great place to travel to and find some sunflowers to enjoy.

Although Kansas is known as the Sunflower State, it really should be North Dakota that is known as the sunflower state. Did you know since 1977 North Dakota has ranked supreme when it comes to sunflower production, producing nearly 51% of the nation’s total sunflowers? I guess since Kansas became a state first, the Sunflower state was already taken. It’s okay Kansas, we forgive you.

Sunflowers 2015-23

You would think with North Dakota being the leader in sunflower production that sunflowers are grown across the state. But this isn’t quite the case, in fact, I would venture to guess that some people living in North Dakota have never even seen a blooming sunflower field. Reasons vary as to why sunflowers aren’t grown across the state. Disease is a limiting factor in growing sunflowers, some areas of North Dakota simply get too much rainfall which makes sunflowers more prone to disease. Some areas of North Dakota it simply isn’t feasible to add sunflowers into their crop rotation. Birds and large wetland areas (pot holes) go hand in hand as two more reasons which limit sunflower growing in some parts of the state. Large communities of birds can devastate a sunflower crop and usually birds flock to large areas of water and cat tails. Also large wetland areas just simply aren’t conducive to growing sunflowers because sunflowers are more of an arid plant and like less water.

So where can you find sunflowers in North Dakota? Well by looking at a production map!

Sunflower Production By County.jpg

This map of North Dakota shows us where the greatest concentrations of Sunflowers are grown. I’ve dropped a county map behind it. Some of the lines don’t line up perfectly but you get the idea. From the map, we can see that North Central and South Central North Dakota are prime areas for sunflower production.  From the map, you can see the two heaviest hitters in sunflower production are Emmons County and up north in Bottineau County. The majority of the sunflowers grown in North Dakota go towards oil production which are different than the kind you buy and enjoy at your local baseball game.

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North Dakota counties are broken up according to where they are located, ie: Northwest, Southwest, South Central. You get the idea. This is how data is compiled when it comes to reporting agriculture production. By looking at USDA data compiled by county as well as location with charts such as this one, we can see that South Central leads the pack with 404,040,000 pounds of sunflowers produced last year in 2012. Close second is Southwest with 219,192,000 pounds of sunflower produced.

Sunflowers & Crops-27

 Let’s compare this to the county we live in, McIntosh, which is part of Southeast North Dakota. In 2012, Southeast North Dakota only produced 50,864,000 lbs. of sunflowers with our county contributing 27,000,000 of the total. In fact, by looking at this data, we learned that we are one of the larger contributors to sunflower production in our county. Our farm, Rohrich Farms, contributes 7.3% of sunflower production in our county! How cool is that!?

So how does North Dakota’s sunflower production compare to the rest of the United States? And what other areas of the country can you find sunflowers?

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Mostly throughout the Midwest, you can be sure to find sunflower fields with producers in South Dakota, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, and even Texas. In fact, South Dakota is hot on our heels in taking the crown for top producer. They snatched the title from us last year and if this year’s planted numbers are any indication, they may in fact take the title two years in a row. Let’s hope that maybe next year if the weather cooperates, we can reclaim our title.

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Regardless of where you go to check out sunflowers, I recommend that you take a road trip and check it out. Sunflowers are a unique crop, they are beautiful, and they are something we are proud to be a part of growing here in North Dakota. Our sunflowers will only be in prime bloom for about another 10 days, but blooming times vary across the state. If an Ag Tourism trip isn’t in your budget, feel free to follow a Sunflower farmer on social media or live vicariously through my posts. Afterall, it’s that time of year again when the yellow blooms will be dominating my feeds. I just can’t get enough of them.

How about you? Feel free to share with me your photos of sunflowers you visit near you! Share a link below!

To learn more about sunflower production in North Dakota, you can check out these posts: 

Sunflower-2,

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  • gliderpilotlee
    August 20, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    Thank you, any States that produce sunflowers and the byproducts. Generally sunflowers are beautiful as you say, but, growing up on a farm in Kansas,I noticed the non productive wild ones could take over a space, etc. etc.

  • Val - Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids
    August 21, 2013 at 10:35 am

    Loved seeing all the sunflower photos and hearing more about sunflower production in North Dakota. In Iowa sunflowers are just known as a weed…

  • ..düşünürken..
    August 27, 2013 at 3:54 am

    nice sunflowers..

  • Caz
    September 19, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    Such a beautiful post! I dream of travelling to America one day with my fiance and doing a road-trip through the mid-west – and yes, ND is definitely up the top of my must-see places! Thank you for producing such informative articles and beautiful photos. I’m a farmgirl at heart myself and love your blog and learning about agriculture in the US! With love from Australia. X

    • jenniferdewey
      September 20, 2013 at 2:53 pm

      Thank you so much!! ND is one of the nation’s hidden gems!! Not many people think about it looking like it does. 😉

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  • Nancy Schmoyer
    March 26, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    Hello,
    My bucket list has a visit to a sunflower field. Some of my family now live in MN and i’d like to plan a trip t see the lowers in bloom! Any suggestions where to pull up & when?

    • Jenny Dewey Rohrich
      April 4, 2016 at 1:42 pm

      Anywhere inside of the counties shown on the map, you’re likely to find sunflowers! Fields change from year to year so I can’t direct you to a pin pointed location. Our sunflowers typically bloom anywhere between mid August to the first part of September, depending on planting! Hope this little bit of information helps and feel free to contact me with any more questions!

  • Siv
    April 17, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    Do you know of locations in Northern California? I live in San Francisco.

    • Jenny Dewey Rohrich
      April 22, 2016 at 7:45 pm

      Hi there Siv,
      Unfortunately I do not! I do know that most of our seed is grown in California! I wish I could give you more information!

    • Lindsay
      July 18, 2016 at 4:33 pm

      There is a field of sunflowers on the west side of I 80 near Vacaville. I just drove by the other day and saw a few sunflowers in bloom, but the whole field hasn’t exploded yet. I kow it will eventually though, I love driving through there in the late summer on my way from Sacramento to the Bay Area to catch some baseball games.