If all goes well, sunflower fields should be in bloom for Labor Day weekend
photo by: Nick Krug
The first sunflower blossom peeked open Thursday at the Hunsinger farm south of Lawrence.
“They are on track to be in full bloom for Labor Day,” said George Hunsinger, who grows six acres of the big flowers not only for the birds but for people in search of a good photo opportunity. “The fields are usually ready in late August or early September, and they look their best for about two weeks.”
George and his wife, Cheryl, began growing sunflowers for agritourism, catering to folks who want to wander around in and photograph a field of giant yellow blossoms. Visitors can snap photos for free, but a donation is requested from those who want to take a flower home from the field at 923 East 1450 Road.
The couple strive to have the flowers in full bloom on Labor Day so that people can drop in on the three-day weekend and stroll around. This year Hunsinger staggered the planting of three fields to spread out the bloom time.
The sunflowers are not just for looks. Hunsinger does harvest the heads, which are the black-oil variety, and sells them at Baldwin Feed Company to be used as birdseed and sunflower oil.
Like all farmers around the area, Hunsinger, whose major crops are soybeans and corn, has faced challenges this past year. Rain delays affected the planting of corn and beans. Then, on Aug. 1, about 8 inches of rain pounded his farm. He admits this year’s sunflower stand doesn’t look as good as he would like.
Ted and Kris Grinter, who own Grinter Farms, 24154 Stillwell Road, between Lawrence and Tonganoxie, could not be reached for an update on their sunflower crop.
However, they did say on a webpage www.kansastravel.org that this year’s weather “made for a later sunflower planting and the blooms are not expected until about Labor Day.”