Dry conditions, animals to blame for delayed blooms at Sunflower Field at Dix Park

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The City of Raleigh has been taking many calls about the popular five-acre sunflower field at Dorothea Dix Park with many wondering when the blooms will make a return.

Seeds were planted in mid-May with blooms expected by the end of June and a peak between July 4 - 17, but, it's running behind expectations.

"We've been trying to be honest with people and letting them know how the growth is coming along so folks can plan their visits," explained Lauren Weldishofer, with the City of Raleigh Marketing and Communications.

"So, stay tuned for updates," Weldishofer added.

The delay is due in part to the dry conditions since the seeds were planted.

"The dry conditions didn't help us out early in their growth, but our public utility department has been out watering and irrigating the sunflower fields and giving lots of love and attention," Weldishofer said. "Hopefully, we'll still get blooms on our planned time."

The city is planning to hold Destination Sunfest near the sunflower field on Saturday, July 13. Last year, the festival was inspired by the sunflowers, but, this year it remains to be seen whether the stars of the show will arrive on time.

"So, it's been hot and we've also had a lot of issues with deer and birds eating seeds," explained Ed Buchan, a Senior Utility Analyst with the city of Raleigh Public Utilities Department. "A lot of deer on a site like this, they can mow down the crops pretty quickly."

Destination Sunfest will be held regardless of blooms and the city says this year, there will be no on-site parking. All drivers will have to park at NC State and be shuttled over to Sunfest.

"We're still going to have a great festival," Weldishofer said. "A Ferris wheel, carousel, vendors, lots of fun. And, hopefully, we'll have some sunflower blooms out here for everyone to enjoy too!"

Once the five-acre field blooms, the sunflowers serve as a massive pollinator habitat for bees and other species.

After the bloom is over, the sunflowers are harvested to process biodiesel fuel for city equipment.
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