MURAL OF NATURE

FROSTY SUNFLOWERS: Frost trims a pair of unharvested sunflowers against a mosaic backdrop of clouds and blue sky as they stand on the edge of a stubble field east of Bismarck in 2016.

Despite the drought in the Dakotas last year, sunflower yields in the United States were the third highest on record.

The USDA report on 2017 sunflower crop production, released Friday, shows the U.S.  average yield per acre of 1,613 pounds, down 118 pounds from 2016. But in North Dakota, where many growers saw severe drought, the average yield declined only 80 pounds from 2016, to 1,636 pounds per acre.

“A dry year like we just had really showcases the drought tolerance of sunflower,” said John Sandbakken, executive director of the National Sunflower Association. “A lot of producers thought they might need to work the crop down but I am sure they are glad that they didn’t after harvesting a much better than expected sunflower crop."

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