Approximately 75% of the SUNFLOWERS raised in the United States are grown in the states of North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. There are two major types of sunflowers: oilseed and non-oil, which is commonly referred to as confectionery. Typically 75-85% of the annual sunflower crop consists of oil-type varieties.
Oilseed-- The small, black seeds of this sunflower contain approximately 38 percent to 50 percent oil and about 20 percent protein. The oil is mainly used in the U.S. for frying. The oilseed hybrids may be of three fatty acid types: linoleic, mid-oleic (NuSun) or high oleic A unique feature of sun oil from crops grown in northern regions is the high level of oleic acid, an essential fatty acid. Refined sun oil also contains the highest alpha-tocopherol content of all vegetable oils. Some black-seeded oil types go into the hulling market for kernel production and for birdseed. The sunflower meal, a by-product of oil extraction, is used primarily for animal feed.
Confectionery-- The confectionery sunflower varieties are usually black with white stripes, and are larger in size than the oil-type varieties. Seed of confectionery sunflowers has a lower oil percentage and test weight than oil-type sunflower seeds. The seeds are available in a number of ways: in shell or dehulled, raw, salted and/or roasted. Sunflower seeds are eaten as a snack or incorporated into baked goods, salads, candies, and main dishes. The smaller seeds are used as bird food. Sunflower seeds are high in iron containing twice as much as raisins and 3-4 times as much as peanuts.