Fields of gold
Pioneer Hi-Bred grows sunflowers on Oahu, one part of the isles’ rapidly growing seed industry
By Nina Wu
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Dec 26, 2009
Drivers passing by a stretch of Farrington Highway in Waialua on Oahu’s North Shore likely have seen a field of sunflowers reminiscent of a Van Gogh painting.
Pioneer Hi-Bred International of Iowa, a biotech seed company, planted the bright yellow sunflowers on 85 acres for a three-month period this year as part of its operations.
The sunflowers were planted in mid-October and likely will finish blooming this week, according to Pioneer Hi-Bred spokeswoman Cindy Goldstein. It is the fifth year in a row Pioneer has planted the sunflowers, which include up to 28 different hybrid varieties.
The sunflower seeds are evaluated for quality standards in Hawaii, and if approved, the same varieties are grown and harvested in California.
"Hawaii serves a vital role because we can do a very quick grow-out here as part of quality production and get quick results to report back," said Goldstein.
Hawaii has the ideal climate and growing conditions for sunflowers year-round.
The seeds, according to Goldstein, are then sold to Midwestern farmers, who crush them to make sunflower oil, which is in high demand in European markets.