North Dakota farmers made history in 2012.
Sunflower yields reached record highs --pushing North Dakota back into the number one position.
Ag Reporter Sarah Gustin has the story.
Seeds like these are making history.
Both oil and confection sunflowers set new yield records in 2012.
Oil yields per acres average 1750 lbs per acre, a 140 pound jump from the previous record set in 2005.
While confections, the sunflowers you eat straight from the shell, averaged a record 1580 pounds per acre.
(John Sandbakken / National Sunflower Association) "On the confection side we export about 50% of what we produce here in North Dakota, and our main markets are in Europe. Spain, turkey, places like that are the largest customers. But, also Mexico is expanding significantly. And that has been our shining star here for the last few years. That in Mexico the demand is increasing consistently every year."
Executive Director of the National Sunflower Association John Sandbakken calls this year's production "an off the charts crop."
Sandbakken says yields were strong throughout the state, with many areas producing more than a ton per acre.
(John Sandbakken / National Sunflower Association) "We ship about 75% of the oil into Canada right now that is exported from the U.S. But, this year I have noticed with a larger crop we have had some recent sales to Mexico, which we haven't had in the past. Mexico was a customer in past years and this year they stepped up and they have already bought 8 thousand tons of oil for delivery here in just the first two months, which is very good."
Sandbakken says he's excited about the numbers and current domestic and foreign demand would support even more sunflower acres in North Dakota.
(John Sandbakken / National Sunflower Association) "We are in a situation, where we can't produce enough oil here to meet the domestic demand alone. So, it would be very easy to add a significant amount of acres, would not be an issue."
Sandbakken says a current moisture situation of being dry, could encourage farmers to plant even more of these drought tolerant acres in 2013.
South Dakota holds the number 2 production spot with just under 900 million pounds.