Lifestyle

A Different Type of Texas Gold: The Boon of the Sunflower

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Because they can thrive and flourish in dry weather, farmers in North Texas are planting sunflower crops where others won’t take root. And often, the product is so appealing to the eye that lines of cars can be seen in places like Hill County, where sunflower farmer Rodney Schronk’s fields are sometimes hard for him to access as a result.

Their beauty and the bright contrast of the flower against the gorgeous blue sky over Texas can sometimes cause crowds of rubberneckers to stop along I-35W close to Hillsboro in order to take pictures and even walk through the fields, trying to get a closer look at the tall stocks of yellow flowers. Although the fields are a source of pride for Schronk, who was featured on the Texas Farm Bureau’s YouTube Channel in the following video, it can also be a little disconcerting when some individuals help themselves to flowers as souvenirs. In a 2013 interview with The Columbus Dispatch, he noted, “They don’t realize that’s our livelihood.” He added, however, “It’s encouraging to see people get out and see the flowers, touch them and see where their food comes from.”

From approximately 2008 to 2013, the number of sunflower acres planted in the Ellis, Hill, and Navarro counties of Texas grew from roughly 2,000 to nearly 24,000. Many of the North Texas farmers that have turned to the hardy crop also have storage facilities on their family farms to store the seeds for others until they’re ready to ship for processing (some of which takes place in Kansas and some in southern Texas.) Because the flowers mature before the heat of a Texas summer goes into high gear, the crop can be brought in before things get too warm. Within the state of Texas, much of the sunflower crops are grown in the High Plains close to Lubbock and the Rio Grande Valley. Seed-roasting facilities have since taken root in the state as well, potentially leading to enhanced and increased growth in the sector – which is a boon for any agriculturist. A beauty to look at and a promising crop for Texas farmers, the sunflower is both a treasure and a sight to behold.

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