Have you ever met a Sunflower Farmer? Well I have one for ya today! Mark Rohrich joins us today from North Dakota! He’s a great example of how farmers across the country maintain diversity in their operations. This is another part of my month-long series asking farmers, ranchers, and consumers why they are proud to be a part of Agriculture. Why are YOU Agriculture Proud?
Agriculture has been a part of my life since birth. My early days started on a small dairy farm located in South Central North Dakota which evolved into our current day grain farming operation. Rohrich Farms is a family operation led by my father, Tom, with my young brother, Allan, and myself, Mark, involved and invested in day-to-day operations.
Our farm’s crop diversity includes wheat, corn, soybeans and sunflowers. I hold sunflowers near and dear to my heart because they are different and special which are qualities that set them apart from other crops as well as worthy of sharing with others. They are also beautiful! Make a visit to North Dakota in August and you will fall in love with fields of yellow blooms. Sunflowers are a challenging but rewarding crop. And at the end of the day, I take pride in the fact that I am one of many helping to produce the resourceful commodity of sunflowers. In fact, North Dakota leads the nation in sunflower production!
Many people don’t realize the diversity in uses for sunflower seeds are endless. Sunflowers seeds primarily include three harvested seed types: oil production (oils), de-hulls, and confection varieties. The trend towards healthy cooking has greatly increased the demand for sunflower oil and the meal by-product from the crushing process makes great animal feed. Did you know that sunflower oil contains 93% of the energy of US Number 2 diesel fuel (octane rating of 37)? In fact, research has been done to explore the potential of using sunflower oil as an alternate fuel source in diesel engines. Sunflower oil is also used in industrial applications like coatings, surfactants, detergents and lubricants. De-hull (meat separated from the hull) sunflowers are used in salads and snacks worldwide. Confection sunflowers that are salted and roasted in the shell are a great snack especially for a baseball game or any occasion. Lastly, let’s not forget that birds love to eat sunflowers seeds as well! This market has given a boost to lesser quality grades and added competition to the sunflower market.
Agronomist by day, farmer at heart, fun-lover in my free time, there is nothing that I love more than being part of this community and family called Agriculture. Happiness, to me, is than taking a Sunday afternoon to awe at the crops and good fortune Agriculture has blessed my life with and there isn’t anywhere else I’d rather call home.