Debra and Dave Vanderlaan
Photograph - Photography
A huge sunflower field at dawn is captured here with an impending storm creating a dramatic and unusual color palette in the sky. The cottage in the background is the caretaker's home in the little town of Hettlingen, Switzerland.
The sunflower plants in this field were very tall and a high ladder was required to be able to get the camera lens over the heads of these magnificent plants.
This exotic North American plant was taken to Europe by Spanish explorers some time around 1500. The plant became widespread throughout present-day Western Europe mainly as an ornamental, but some medicinal uses were developed. By 1716, an English patent was granted for squeezing oil from sunflower seed.
The sunflower became very popular as a cultivated plant in the 18th century. Most of the credit is given to Peter the Great. The plant was initially used as an ornamental flower, but by 1769 literature mentions sunflower cultivated by oil production. By 1830, the manufacture of sunflower oil was done on a commercial scale. The Russian Orthodox Church increased its popularity by forbidding most oil foods from being consumed during Lent. However, sunflower was not on the prohibited list and therefore gained in immediate popularity as a food.
By the early 19th century, Russian farmers were growing over 2 million acres of sunflower. During that time, two specific types had been identified: oil-type for oil production and a large variety for direct human consumption. Government research programs were implemented. V. S. Pustovoit developed a very successful breeding program at Krasnodar. Oil contents and yields were increased significantly. Today, the world's most prestigious sunflower scientific award is known as The Pustovoit Award.
November 30th, 2012
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