The Bible of sunflower production is "Sunflower Science and Technology",
Agronomy #19 (American Society of Agronomy). It was published in 1978, but
still would be a good place to start (505 information-packed pages).
As with any major shift in cropping system, "Proceed with caution" would be
prudent advice, but especially in this case, for three reasons:
1. Sunflower production more than tripled from 1976 to 1978, and doubled
again from 1978 to 1979 (5.55 million acres nationally), BUT fell by 2/3 by
1986. It now has settled in at about one-half its 1979 peak. (That's for all
sunflowers, 90% of which are raised as an oilseed; non-oilseed production has
been more stable.)
2. Its production is very concentrated. Just three adjacent states (MN,
SD, and ND) account for over four-fifths of the national total, and all the
remaining states with commercial production are in the West. Growing them in
Massachusetts would certainly be a venture.
3. The vegetable grower who asked may not realize that sunflower is grown
as a field crop; its machinery requirements, scale of production, etc. are
much closer to those of corn for grain, say, than vegetables.
The best sources of up-to-date information would be Extension in the three
major producing states.