We grow two types of sunflowers on our farm, confectionary sunflowers and oil sunflowers. Often confectionary sunflowers get all the glory as you see them on the store shelf when you buy Spitz for the ball game. However, oil sunflowers are just commonplace in your kitchen, even if not recognizable by brand name.
On our farm (Southwest Manitoba) there are many factors that go into deciding how many acres of oils and “confecs” we grow each year… Here is a comparison of the two types:
Each year there are specific factors that influence cost of production, such as seed cost and weather conditions, as a key influence on disease and thus spraying costs. Since sunflowers are a late-maturing crop it is sometimes necessary to desiccate (spray to kill the plant) rather than wait until a killing frost, to harvest in a timely fashion. This too impacts cost of production and is balanced with drying costs for harvesting wet sunflowers.
Regardless of the ratio of oils to confecs, sunflowers are a part of our crop rotation every year. They are rewarding to grow… and they make beautiful pictures.