Did you know that Minnesota is the third biggest producer of sunflowers in the United States after North and South Dakota? Farmers started planting sunflower fields in Minnesota when they saw how well their neighbors in North and South Dakota were doing. Sunflowers are also a popular crop in other US states like Texas, Ohio, Illinois and more.
However, for most farmers the sunflowers were low priority. As sunflowers can be planted quite late in the season they could give areas of the land which hadn’t produced a second chance at some yields. Or some farmers grew sunflowers to use as feed for their cows.
2020 saw record years and huge growth versus 2019 in sunflower, oil crops, and sunflower non-oil crops in Minnesota. Plus there is now a burgeoning tourism industry around visiting the stunning Minnesota sunflower fields when they are in full bloom.
When to see Sunflower Fields in Minnesota
Table of Contents
- 1 When to see Sunflower Fields in Minnesota
- 2 Fun Facts about Sunflowers
- 3 7 Sunflower Fields in Minnesota to Visit
- 4 What Can I do with Sunflower Seeds?
August and September tend to be the two key months of the year to see sunflowers in bloom in Minnesota. The timing will vary each year of course based on the weather. Plus, most of the sunflower fields which allow for visitors will be in bloom at different times. As you will see Fish sunflowers actually plan for this and have different bloom dates across their ten fields.
The best way to keep up to date with when Minnesota sunflower fields will be blooming is to check the websites of the various farms and follow their facebook pages. Many sell their tickets ahead of time – particularly those that do events like a sunflower festival – so make sure to get your ticket early so you don’t miss out.
Fun Facts about Sunflowers
- Not all sunflowers are yellow – they also come in purple and red.
- Sunflowers can range in height. There are two categories of sunflowers: tall and dwarf. Tall sunflowers tend to be yellow and durable and will reach between 12 and 16 feet high. Dwarf sunflowers tend to be grown in clusters in small gardens and pots. They are referred to as dwarfs because they tend not to grow taller than 3 feet. However, both sizes love the full sunlight.
- Young sunflowers track the sun. Their face will follow the sun from sunrise to sunset every day and keep repeating this until they mature.
- Mature sunflowers face East. Once a sunflower reaches maturity their internal clocks start slowing down. Also, sunflowers are more productively warmed when facing East and once warmer they can attract up to five times more pollinators.
- Sunflowers are native to the United States. Although it is now harvested around the world, the sunflower plant is native to North America. North Dakota is the leading US state for sunflower production.
- Thousands of tiny flowers create a sunflower’s head. Each petal on the circumference of a sunflower is a unique flower. The long petals are called “ray florets”.
- There is a Teddy Bear Sunflower. These sunflowers are particularly bushy and spherical. They tend to produce double blooms which gives them a full fluffy head that looks like a teddy bear.
- Sunflower Seeds are highly nutritious. They are loaded with minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron as well as vitamins. Plus they are a valuable source of protein, fiber and polyunsaturated fat.
7 Sunflower Fields in Minnesota to Visit
1. Sunflower Ranch
The Sunflower Ranch holds the Sunflower Fest every year on the last Friday in August through to Labor Day. The owners, Phil and Shawn, planted an acre of sunflowers for their son’s wedding in 2018. So many people stopped to see the sunflowers that they decided to start a festival. 3,000 people attended the last festival.
Private reservations are available for Sunflower Ranch all year round.
2. Fresh Acres
Fresh Acres was started in 2016 by two ex-corporate workers. They have 5 acres of sunflower fields and expect the flowers to be ready for mid-August in 2021. They charge admission per person and a set price for a bouquet of sunflowers.
Fresh Acres is also available for private events, photo shoots and yoga classes. And don’t miss their corn maze!
3. Waldoch Farm
Waldoch Farm and Garden Centre have six acres of sunflowers – that’s about the size of six football fields full of sunflowers. Each year they hold a Sunflower Festival which allows visitors to see the 10,000 sunflowers in full bloom.
Parking is free and admission tickets include admission to the Sunflower Experience, Wagon Ride to the Sunflower Fields, one sunflower of the visitor’s choice, and a pick and play membership. Additional sunflowers can also be purchased. There are live music and wine, beer, and snacks available for purchase.
Do make sure to book your tickets for the Waldoch Farm Sunflower Festival online – in 2020 they went on sale August 15. They held the festival over three weekends in 2020 starting late August and there was no additional charge for taking photos.
4. Minnesota Harvest Craft Cider Bar & Orchard
In previous years Minnesota Harvest has held events around sunflowers but there are currently no details about their 2021 plans. Keep an eye on their website and facebook page for updates.
5. Brand Farms
Brand Farms have opened Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in September in the past to allow visitors to see their sunflower fields. Some are waist-high. This is literally a field so choose your shoes carefully. There is a small fee for each car and a fee per sunflower. Follow their facebook page to see what their 2021 plans are.
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6. Treasured Haven Farm
This family-owned organic farm is located in Rush City, Minnesota. It is a huge farm that covers hundreds of acres. They grow vegetables, corn, oats and more and produce eggs, meat and even maple syrup.
But Treasured Haven Farm is most famous for its organic sunflowers. The farm grows acres of sunflowers every year. Sunflower viewing times vary but early to mid-August is normally the best time. For 2021, Treasured Haven Farms is forecasting that there will be blooming sunflowers in September.
This Minnesota farm grows sunflowers as a genuine harvest crop. However, as they have so many requests for photo opportunities they open the farm to visitors during Sunflower Days in August. This also provides an opportunity to see the life cycle of a sunflower with the various stages of the field.
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Each year the farm adds some unique experiences to Sunflower Days. In 2021 there will be farm woodland trails, creek overlooks and a special sunflower 5 kilometre trail run.
Treasured Haven Farm sells Black Oil Sunflower Seeds which can be used as food for wild birds or to grow microgreen shoots. They can also be eaten and are great in salads.
The best way to stay up to date with these Minnesota sunflower fields is by checking their website.
NB: A Professional Photographer License Fee applies.
7. Fish Sunflower Field
Johnny Fish has been planting sunflowers in the Minnesota north metro area for five years. In 2020, he decided to plant ten sunflower fields and open them up to the public. There is no admission charge, no charge for photos and no donations. He just asked people to spread the word and to put their photos on social media. Johnny is actually a realtor and this is his side passion project.
The fields are open for visitors all the time – at the visitor’s risk. There is specific parking information for each field. Sunflower fields usually bloom for about 10 days but Johnny plants the fields at different times to stagger when the blooming takes place.
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Locations for 2021 haven’t been announced yet but some of the 2020 locations were Albert Lea, Prairie Knoll Park in Andover, Prairie Oak Church Andover, Big Lake, Dayton, Monticello, Orrock, Otsego, Rogers and Zimmerman. Locations are normally announced only one week prior to the bloom to prevent too much traffic to these private properties.
What Can I do with Sunflower Seeds?
Sunflower seeds are most commonly used in two ways. One is to eat them and two is to grow more sunflowers. Here’s how!
How to Cook with Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are often forgotten in the pantry but they are super nutritious and can also add great flavour to food. Here are six ways to cook with sunflower seeds:
- Add to dough when making bread
- Sprinkle on your salads for some extra crunch
- Add to baked goods like muffins before putting them in the oven
- Add to vegetables for more flavor – toast the sunflower seeds before or add them to the cooking method
- Mix them in with your breakfast cereal
- When making pesto
How to Grow Sunflowers at Home
It is relatively easy to grow sunflowers at home. Sunflowers like full sun but they also need a bit of shelter so they don’t fall over. Against a wall or a fence is perfect. Literally sow the seeds where you want the sunflowers to grow. Place the seeds about 12mm deep and 45cm apart. Mid April to May is the best time of year to sow sunflower seeds. Give them a good thorough water at least once a week.
If you want to cut your sunflowers do so early in the morning and make sure you use a tall vase so that their heads are support.
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