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Sunflower Oil Grown, Pressed And Bottled On Kansas Farm
Living in Kansas, the Sunflower State, adding value to sunflowers by pressing the oil seems like a natural thing to do, says Dennis Wright. He is the third generation that has grown sunflowers on the Wright farm near Bird City, Kan.
  “Cold pressing unrefined oil is not very prevalent in our country right now. Most oil is refined in the U.S., so we felt there might be a good market for it,” Wright explains. “What makes us unique is that we do it all, from planting the seed in the ground to putting the cap on the bottle.”
  Wright and his father, Don, raise high oleic sunflowers that have 82 percent acid levels in the oil, which are high in mono unsaturated fats and low in poly unsaturated fats, and have vitamin E and antioxidants. Sunflower oil is comparable to olive oil in nutrition and price.
  In 2016, the Wrights put up a 30 by 40-ft. building with a room for pressing and a room for bottling next to an old government bin on the farm that can hold about 5,000 bushels of sunflower seeds that are fed to the building by a 4-in. auger.
  The Wrights set it up to be efficient and automatic using parts they had on hand. Don, a retired electrician, used a microswitch from a pivot irrigation sprinkler to automate the process. After the seeds are pressed, the oil cycles through a filter several times. The press is placed high enough that the meal falls into a commodity bag that can be moved with a pallet jack and loaded into a truck when sold to a farmer for feed. Don built the labeler so that it operates by pushing on a foot pedal that runs an inexpensive drill that spins a lawn mower belt to rotate a bottle while wrapping on the label.
  Learning to operate the German equipment effectively took some trial and error, but marketing is the biggest challenge.
  “We stop at stores wherever we go and let them smell it. It smells like sunflowers,” Wright says. Between that, attending craft fairs, being part of tours, and word of mouth, they have Wright Farms Sunflower Oil in an assortment of grocery stores and specialty shops, as well as selling it direct to customers.
  “My biggest surprise is the varied uses people come up for it,” Wright says. In addition to everyday cooking, it works well in Asian dishes, for smoking meat, and for skin care products such as diaper rash cream.
  “We set the price ($6 for a 16-oz. bottle) so customers can easily justify giving it a try,” Wright says. “We make it in small batches so it’s as fresh as oil can be.”
  The family does all the work themselves and have the capacity to grow the business in the future. In addition to 16-oz. bottles, they sell the oil in 8-oz. and 32-oz. bottles with plans to sell gallons in the near future.
  The Wrights welcome dealer inquiries and are also open to tour requests.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Wright Enterprises LLC., 1760 RD 29, P. O. Box 88, Bird City, Kan. 67731 (ph 785 734-7044; www.wright.farm; dennis.wrightfarms@yahoo.com).

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2019 - Volume #43, Issue #3