Timing Sunflower Cutting

thinman(Z5 MI)August 5, 2006

I'm new here and to the cut flower business as well. All I am doing this year is experimenting with sunflowers. I planted about four hundred of them in June: Pro Cuts, Sunrich, Sunny, and others, in two different plantings, three weeks apart. The plants are doing great and I am having fun with them, but in spite of reading every sunflower post on this forum, I'm still not really clear on when to pick them for market.

I've been watching the flowers as the petals go from (1) visible, but folded tight, through (2) perpendicular to the flower face, and (3) fully open radially arrayed. I want my future customers to get fresh long-lasting flowers, so how long after the petals are fully open are the flowers still OK for market? If they open fully on Wednesday, can I still cut them Friday for Saturday's market? Do you have to watch each bloom and note when it reaches stage 3 so you can start your stopwatch? That seems kind of impractical, so what do you pros do?

I apologize if this is a dumb newbie question, but I guess if you're a dumb newbie, that's the kind of question you ask. :)

ThinMan

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chris_canada(z8)

Hi ThinMan,

I think all the regular posters here are out cutting their sunflowers...
Flowers that opened Wednesday are too old to cut on Friday. You might see other vendors selling them, but they're not going to get the repeat business you will with fresher flowers. If you only go to market one day a week, you have to accept that a lot of your suns will bloom on days when you can't use them. If you cut the day before market, you want to pick flowers that are either in stage 2 or have just arrived at stage 3. Although you can cut suns a bit before your stage 2, they'd be harder to sell at market.

We go to market 4 days a week in peak season, and we manage to use most of the sunflowers that bloom for us - even so, some of them are just too old and we leave them in the field.

'Sunny' can be a bit deceiving because it tends to keep a bit of a cone shape even as it's aging.
We also make sure they're well irrigated, especially before we pick them, and we till in mushroom manure for them every season.

Good luck!

Chris

    Bookmark   August 8, 2006 at 10:34PM
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anniew(4-5/PA)

I'd recommend cutting every day or two and then you don't have to figure out what just opened and what had already been opened for a couple of days. Find another market in between market days...like directly to florists. If the sunflowers are really fresh, the florists will begin to call you because your flowers are so much better than most of the stuff they can get from the wholesalers.
Ann

    Bookmark   August 9, 2006 at 3:52PM
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thinman(Z5 MI)

Chris and Ann -

Thank you very much for taking the time to advise me. What you have written makes good sense and helps me a lot.

With appreciation,
ThinMan

    Bookmark   August 10, 2006 at 8:47AM
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