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Where do sunflowers grow?

In Canada most of the sunflowers are grown in the province of Manitoba. Sunflowers are also grown in southern Saskatchewan and southern Alberta.

Why do some farmers grow sunflowers?
It does not take as long for the sunflower to mature as other crops. The sunflower is able to grow in areas that do not receive much moisture.

field of sunflowers

You may have seen a field of yellow sunflowers when you've been out for a drive in the country in the summer.

Types of sunflowers

Sunflowers can grow as high as 5 m (15 ft). There are also dwarf sunflower plants that will only grow 60-90 cm (2-3 ft) tall.

Sunola and sunwheat are two types of sunflowers that grow on the prairies.

  • Sunola does not grow as tall as a normal sunflower and the head of the plant is also smaller. The plant can grow to be from 60-90 cm tall (24-36 in) and the head varies from 8-13 cm (3-5 in). It ripens faster than other types of sunflower.
  • Sunwheat is another type of sunflower which can grow in drier areas. It is better able to withstand the hot summers. Sunwheat grows to a height of 100-120 cm (40-48 in). It is better able to withstand the hot summers.

How do sunflowers grow ?

Sunflowers like well-drained soil. The seeds are usually planted in May when it is warm enough for the seeds to germinate. The roots of a sunflower can go deep into the soil (over 1.5 m). The crop is harvested in late September or in October.

The plants will not grow well in fields that have many weeds. Birds like crows and blackbirds may damage sunflowers because they like to eat the seeds.


What happens to the seeds ?

One sunflower head can produce a thousand seeds. The seeds are graded according to size and separated into groups. The largest seeds are marketed as snack food. The medium-sized seeds are usually de-hulled (the shell is removed). The smallest seeds are used as food for pets and birds. sunflower seeds

Uses for sunflower seeds

  • Large seeds are roasted, salted and packaged as snack foods. Do you like to eat sunflower seeds?
  • Medium-sized seeds are shelled and used in baked goods.
  • Small-sized seeds are sold mainly for birdseed. Pet food (for hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, etc.) also contain sunflower seeds.

Sunflower seeds are good for you.

The seeds produce a high quality oil which is used to make margarine, cooking oil and salad oil.

The sunflower kernels (seeds) are also used for baking and to sprinkle on top of salads. The kernels contain vitamins, minerals, and good fats that help to keep our bodies healthy.

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Link - colouring book "The Story of the Sunflower"
updated April 2009

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