Photo shoots in sunflower fields cause challenges for sunflower farmers

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LUBBOCK, Texas (KLBK) — From Lubbock to Slaton, fields of sunflowers can be seen in full bloom right now. Many people have been venturing out to take photos among the flowers.

“First bloom they flair and that’s what gets all the attention,” said sunflower farmer Dale Kitchen.

Sunflowers can be used as a catch crop, meaning that they are often planted on fields where other crops, planted earlier in the season, have failed.

For Kitchen, it was his cotton crop that failed. While his sunflowers have survived, they have brought on another set of challenges.

“I have a field by Highway 84 and I got really concerned. We literally had several thousand people hit the brakes, run out into the field, and start taking photos,” said Dale.

Kitchen says he’s had people from all over come and take photos at his fields without permission, but that it is normally not a problem until they damage his crop.

“I got a call and they said, ‘You have a Suburban in your field.’ And they have cut off a couple hundred years of sunflower heads and threw them in the back of the Suburban, and I think they took them to town and sold them as sunflower bouquets, which they did without my permission,” said Kitchen.

For photographer Kylie Cole, when clients ask to take photos in the sunflowers she makes sure no one picks them.

“When you’re in an environment like that, that’s someone’s field that they spent all that time doing, you don’t just go and pick them up,” said Cole.

She thinks so many people want to take photos in the flowers because sunflower fields can be hard to find

“I think that’s why people were stopping on the side of the road, because they were traveling somewhere and they happened to finally find this beautiful field that is just full of color, so they have to stop because you don’t find them everywhere,” said Cole.

But as long as photographers respect Kitchen’s crop, he hopes all can enjoy his flowers.

“The COVID and all the quarantine and the shutdown, people are just really wanting to get out,” said Kitchen. “When they see something like this, it may be uplifting to their spirits and bring them a little joy and I don’t mind that.”

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