SOLANO COUNTY — This is the time of year where hundreds of people clog Solano County farm roads to take pictures of the blooming sunflower crop.
But sheriff’s deputies are now saying sunflower tourists have become a nuisance.
Sunflowers are a multi-million-dollar crop in Solano County. While ranchers understand the allure of their crop, they also say their fields are a workplace that is often interrupted by flower tourists.
The sunflower blooming season lasts only a couple of weeks, one reason people say they can’t resist wading into the sea of yellow to take pictures.
“They’ve got about another five days and they’ll be really, really bright and it’s hard to resist,” said farmer Craig Gnos.
Growers like 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 OK to go walk through the fields and it’s not,” he told FOX40.
Tourists driving down narrow roads and blocking farm equipment is bad enough, but flowers are often 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.
Tuesday, 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 little picture. You just cannot be doing that,” Pratt said.
A person in the group 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 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 caused this property owner money and that’s just ridiculous,” Pratt explained.
The most popular times for sunflower tourists to take pictures is during the evenings and on weekends. Solano County sheriff’s deputies say they will increase patrols in the area during those times to make sure the rules on trespassing and blocking roads aren’t broken.