Cold & Snow Strand Sunflower Crop

Berthold, ND - The harvest of corn and sunflowers was slowed by very cold and snowy weather last week.
The USDA reports 76% of corn has been harvested - behind the average of 85%.
Sunflower harvest looks better with 81% done, compared with an average of 78%.

But where sunflowers remain in the field, there's a chance they'll be there all winter.
Jim Olson went to the Berthold area to see the problem.

Kevin Asmundson put in about 200 acres of sunflowers this year - something new for him - and something he may not do again.

(Kevin Asmundson, Berthold Area Farmer) "I've never been through this before and I don't want to be again."

He's not happy to see all these flowers stuck in the snow. The longer they're snowbound, the more crops is lost to wildlife - and the wind.

(Kevin Asmundson, Berthold Area Farmer) "The heads start banging into each other like this one over here. This one's been banging on this and it lost the seeds out of the head."

But why can't he combine the crop now? 

(Kevin Asmundson, Berthold Area Farmer) "Most of it is snow on the heads, and they're soft and mushy yet so the seed can't dry when they're sitting in that kind of condition."

Snow can jam up the combine - and it's expensive to dry the seeds after harvest so Asmundson just has to wait for the sun to melt the snow and do some natural drying. So, his choices?

(Kevin Asmundson, Berthold Area Farmer) "Hope for the right scenario. Or if not, wait 'til spring for combining which I guess has been done quite a bit."
And how's he like that option?
(Kevin Asmundson, Berthold Area Farmer) "Which doesn't sound very attractive."

If there should be some help from mother nature, it'll take a few days to bring in this final crop of his 2017 season - but if this early winter in northern North Dakota stays cold and wet, these sunflowers will be here all winter - waiting for a spring harvest.

On the bright side, Asmundson says his sunflower crop looks like a good one - if he can get it to market.

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