Beautiful pollinator plantings have graced North Carolina’s roadsides all summer. Round two of sunflowers will bloom in October.
Beautiful pollinator plantings have graced North Carolina’s roadsides all summer. Round two of sunflowers will bloom in October. These roadside pollinator habitats are a result of a partnership between Bayer and the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). Bayer made a $100,000 contribution in April 2015 and has pledged to provide another $50,000 of funding in 2016.
The NCDOT planted 58 acres of hybrid sunflowers across North Carolina in spring 2014. The sunflowers produced their first big yellow blossoms early this summer and dropped seeds that will generate another bloom this fall. NCDOT has studied the exact timing on when to mow these sunflowers. The appearance of the flower head as it dries and begins to die indicates when to cut it in order to scatter the seeds and have a sunflower crop for next year.
The NCDOT will plant 28 acres of canola in Western counties this fall. Canola produces beautiful yellow flowers that are highly attractive to bees. The canola should bloom early summer 2016.
After starting out with yellow sunflower and canola annuals, NCDOT’s pollinator habitat program will shift its focus to include multi-colored bee-attractant perennials for 2016. The plantings can nourish pollinators that will benefit crops several miles away. Pollination is crucial to the success of North Carolina’s $78 billion agricultural economy. North Carolina is the second largest state-maintained highway system in the nation with about 300,000 managed acres.
The state’s roadside wildflower program that’s been in place for more than 25 years is funded by personalized license plates. The additional cost of researching, designing, and introducing pollinator forage is borne by private funding from contributors like Bayer.
This video provides more information on pollinator habitats and the NCDOT Wildflower Program.