Hey, Instagrammers: Sunflower growers say you’re damaging their crops

Bay Area

SOLANO COUNTY, Calif. (CNN) – Sunflowers are a multi-million dollar crop in Solano County.

And when the sunflowers are blooming like they’re about to, the yellow fields make beautiful photographs.

But there is a downside.

So many people are coming out to take pictures of the fields in bloom – they’re destroying the beautiful flowers.

It’s a common sight on rural roads near Interstate 80 in Dixon where thousands of acres of sunflowers are showing their colors.

The sunflower blooming season only lasts a couple weeks – one reason people can’t resist wading into the sea of yellow to take pictures.

Growers like Craig Gnos don’t mind people taking sunflower selfies, but they say trespassing and interrupting farming operations is a huge problem.

“We’ll have 50 or 60 people here at one time and they think it’s okay to go walk through the fields, and it’s not,” Gnos said.

Tourists driving down down narrow roads and blocking farm equipment is bad enough.

But flowers are damaged or taken, and there’s the liability risk for growers.

“There’s a lot of equipment, there are lots of holes, drains, ditches and there’s plenty of places to trip, fall and get hurt and we just don’t need that extra exposure of injuries,” Gnos said.

Gnos was in the process of posting “NO TRESPASSING” signs when some people walked into his field to take pictures, ignoring him and the signs.

Sheriff’s Deputy Culley Pratt happened by and gave them a warning.

“Some of these people are accessing these fields in four-wheel drive trucks, rolling over sunflowers and going out there and destroying stuff in order to get a picture, you just cannot be doing that,” said Dep. Pratt.

A person in this group speaking mostly Chinese said she was from San Francisco and was sightseeing with visitors.

They seemed to know they were trespassing but said they were being careful and wouldn’t be there long.

But the Sheriff’s Office has a cautionary tale of one sunflower tourist.

“Attempted to take a perfect selfie, twisted an ankle and in turn sued and cost this property owner money, and that’s just ridiculous,” Dept. Pratt said.

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