Advertise in Print | Subscriptions
Published June 01, 2009, 04:00 AM

Organic sunflowers: How do you do that?

FARGO, N.D. — Organic sunflower? Yes, it can be done, says Bob Majkrzak, president and chief executive of Red River Commodities of Fargo, N.D. Industry people often are shocked that it’s possible.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

FARGO, N.D. — Organic sunflower?

Yes, it can be done, says Bob Majkrzak, president and chief executive of Red River Commodities of Fargo, N.D. Industry people often are shocked that it’s possible.

“We have some farmers in North Dakota, South Dakota and some in Nebraska, that can supply organically grown sunflowers,” Majkrzak says. “They’re a dedicated group all to themselves.”

Growing the indigenous sunflowers organically — without synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, for three years before certification — often sounds crazy to those who know how subject the crop is to pests.

“It’s a challenge. It’s not easy,” Majkrzak says. “So kudos to those guys who have figured out how to do it. They make it happen.”

Majkrzak says organic sunflower yields average about 1,000-pounds-per acre level.

Red River Commodities can’t do organic sunflower in-shell because of the need for visual appeal, he says.

“But with better technologies in color separation, we can handle even higher levels of insect damage on the kernel,” Majkrzak says. “But organic in-shell? I don’t think that’s possible.”