Thursday, October 8, 2009

WHITE HALL, Md. (AP) | In July, Zach Rose planted 600 acres of sunflowers. In full bloom, they form a brilliant yellow landscape at his farm in northern Harford County. Photographers and others are all smiles when they happen upon it.

Mr. Rose was thinking only about sunflower seeds when he planted and expects to harvest thousands of pounds of seed around early December.

For now, the sunflowers stand majestically tall along the roadsides.

“You can be having the worst day and then you make the turn into Jarrettsville, and suddenly, because of the sunflowers, it’s all better,” said Stacy Stearns, who lives in Harford County.

The Rose family owns Clear Meadow Farm. They often double-crop a field, harvesting wheat in July and replanting with sunflowers.

They recently had sown patches of sunflowers, which produce seeds and oil, and went all out this summer. The flowers took about three months to bloom and now fill several fields.

“The sunflowers look a lot prettier than the wheat,” said Mr. Rose, the second generation of the family to work the farm.

“The community is often complaining about getting stuck on the road behind a slow tractor or about the smell from the manure spreader. This crop lets the community see something pretty and positive about farming.”

His mother, Nancy Rose, is called “Mrs. Sunflower” by neighbors, he said.

“You can’t help but smile when you see them,” said Nancy Rose. “People are coming from everywhere to see them. I wish I had a dollar for every photo shot of them.”

The Roses hope to harvest about 1,000 pounds of sunflower seeds per acre, and sell them to F.M. Brown’s Sons, a Reading, Pa., company. “There is a big market for bird seed,” said Marianne Brown Egolf, general manager of the company.

It is nearly impossible to stay indifferent to a sunflower field in full bloom.

Amateur photographers Bill Wossowski of Jarrettsville and Ann Rumrill of Rochester, N.Y., recently focused their cameras on the field across from the Jarrettsville Pharmacy.

“They are so beautiful that I can’t resist taking pictures,” Mr. Wossowski said. “I think I have taken hundreds. I thought about making a sunflower poster. This is a real treat.”

Miss Rumrill, who was visiting relatives, plans to use her pictures in her greeting card business. “The family told me I had to come to Jarrettsville to see the rolling hills filled with sunflowers,” she said.

Mark Lapourille, owner of a pharmacy, is also getting some benefit. Visitors sometimes stop in the store and do some shopping.

“It is such a nice sight that people keep stopping in our parking lot and taking pictures,” he said. “They are nonstop talking about sunflowers in the store, too.”

Mr. Lapourille gives directions to areas farther away. “They are blooming all the way up Route 23 into Pennsylvania,” he said.

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