‘Significantly above-average yields’: farmers prepare for sunflower harvest

Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 6:46 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Drooping sunflower heads indicate this year’s harvest is coming up soon, especially when the weather turns cold.

“Having a good, hard freeze obviously kills the plant and allows it to dry down quickly, and the drier the plant is, the easier it is to combine,” said John Sandbakken, executive director of the National Sunflower Association.

And for Jeff Oberholtzer, a killing freeze couldn’t come soon enough. He’s feeling good about turning a profit after what he calls a testing spring.

“Testing because it tests your patience. You’re struggling to get things done, and we didn’t really start seeding until about June 1st because of all the snow that we had,” said Jeff.

After a late planting season, a hailstorm wiped out nearly a quarter of Jeff’s crops.

“A hard freeze would also help with all the crops that were hit by the hail that were delayed and set back,” said Jeff.

But despite lost crops, their yield will be comparable to average, and officials say that’s the trend this year.

“I would say most growers that I’ve visited with are looking at average to significantly above-average yields. We’re in a good position right now to have a good harvest, and I think growers will be very happy,” said Sandbakken.

Hoping to turn a freeze into a successful harvest. Farmers have to wait about two weeks for the sunflowers to dry out, and after that, harvest can begin.