The harvest of sunflowers in Manitoba is moving along, but there are still some fields standing, waiting to be combined.
The harvest may be nearly complete in the Red River Valley, but further north it was only two thirds done at the end of October, Mike Durand, sales and purchasing manager at Nestibo Agra in Deloraine, Manitoba, said.
“Farmers were hoping to harvest at lower moisture, and it hasn’t really been happening for them, so they’re pulling it off just now,” he said. “It’s coming off big time these days.”
Durand added that the pace of the harvest was about average, but behind compared to 2012.
The quality of the crop that has been harvested so far seems to be fairly good, despite earlier concerns about wet weather causing disease problems.
“With the wet weather in the fall we usually having some issues with sclerotinia or head rot, so usually we have quality concerns,” said Durand. “But, those concerns didn’t materialize into any quality issues.”
Yields also seem to be good so far, Durand said, adding that farmers are content with production. Yields are mostly above average, though not as good as in 2012, when they were “phenomenal”, he added.
Prices for both confectionary and oil types of sunflowers are fairly good for farmers, though prices for the oil type have fallen along with other North American oilseed markets. Prairie Ag Hotwire shows western Canadian oil sunflowers at 20 cents per pound as of late October 2013, down about 5 cents from the same time in 2012.
Confectionary prices are holding steady, and are expected to stay fairly strong due to tight supplies and good export demand, said Durand.
FarmLink Marketing Solutions, a Winnipeg grain marketing firm, estimated in a recent release that Canadian sunflower acres would increase to 150,000 acres in 2014/15, from 120,000 in 2013/14.
Durand noted that it’s possible for acreage to increase in the spring, but it’s still a little bit too early to know what farmers will do for sure.
“The price of corn has come down dramatically in the last few months, and so that should help us (gain acres) as long as we can maintain a good price for sunflowers,” he said.