Sunflower harvest in South Dakota above average - KOTA Territory News

Sunflower harvest in South Dakota above average

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There is one crop that has survived the drought this year, sunflowers!

National Sunflower Association President Tom Young says South Dakota averages 1,600 pounds of sunflower seeds per acre. And, he says surprisingly even with the drought, this year's sunflower harvest is above average.

In KOTA Territory the sunflower harvest results are also unexpected. "They're not bad for the year yeah for as dry as it is," said hired hand Tom Raba.

While a sunflower harvest near Rapid City usually has a little smaller yield than other parts of the state, farmers like Jim Madsen and Tom Raba say things could be much worse. "1,500 pounds is a pretty good crop so you know if these are running 1,200 then that's not too bad," said Raba. "I've cut sun flowers that probably made 400 pounds to the acre."

Luckily for these two farmers sunflowers are pretty hardy. "They're a tough plant, they like the sun and the drought I guess and we've got that," said Farmer Jim Madsen.

"Sunflowers are a weed, so you know, weeds grow rain or shine," said Raba.

But this year's drought does keep local farmers on their toes because harvesting sunflowers can be a fire hazard even in a wet season. "They like to burn that's for sure and when it's dry like this they like to burn that much worse," said Madsen.

And, when it comes to combining sunflowers, there's a fine oily dust that can build up on the machinery that can start smoldering from static electricity. "Like when you shuffle your feet across the carpet you know and you'll make a spark like that," said Raba.

If you don't catch it in time, the entire combine could catch on fire. "Last year we had four of them on fire at one time," said Raba with a chuckle.

So far this year, no combines have burst into flames. All in all, despite the drought, the sunflower harvest is off to a good start.

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