Where the sunflowers grow

Pure Nebraska
Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 10:31 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2021 at 11:06 AM CDT
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NORTH LOUP, Neb. (KOLN) - During a recent field day event, the owners of Simply Sunflower in North Loup, Nebraska gave the public a chance to see a field of their beautiful crop in bloom.

We caught up with Sierra Forrest to talk about this field day. She is the director of marketing and sales for the business. “The field day happens once a year, and our sunflowers are only in full bloom 7 to 10 days out of the year,” Forrest said. “It is a one-day event, and we try to have it on a weekend. It’s usually in mid-August to early September. It depends a lot on heat and how the sunflowers are growing.”

The event gives customers a chance to come out and see how the sunflowers are produced. “It’s fun to see the fruit of our labor,” Forrest said. “This field behind us is 80 acres, and we have 24,000 sunflowers per acre. So this field has 1.9 million sunflowers in it. This produces quite a bit of oil for us. It’s neat to invite the public to come out and take family pictures, senior pictures, explore, and make fun memories. It’s fun for people to know that a kitchen staple comes straight from the heart of Nebraska.”

During our visit, we noticed that the sunflowers were beginning to lean over. “That is called heliotropism, which is a plant’s response to sunlight,” Forrest said. “When they start filling up with oil, the head of the sunflower gets heavy, and weighs it down. At that point, it stops turning toward the sun. It just stays eastward facing for the rest of the life of the sunflower.”

Forrest says the company combines the sunflowers, and then they store them in grain bins. “Then, we take them directly to our production plant in North Loup,” Forrest said. “There, we cold press the seeds, filter the oil, and that’s where we have our bottling facilities as well. That’s where we direct the product to grocery stores across Nebraska and the nation.”

If you’d like to know more about Simply Sunflower Oil, go to simplysunflower.com.

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