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Manitoba sunflowers not calling it quits just yet

MarketsFarm — Manitoba farmers may have seeded the smallest sunflower acres in eight years this spring, but the crop is in reasonably good shape heading into the harvest later in the fall.

“I do expect to see better crops this year than last year,” said Cody Burton, purchasing manager with Nestibo Agra at Deloraine, Man. noting bushel weights were on the lighter side in 2018.

Daryl Rex, research agronomist with the National Sunflower Association of Canada at Carman, Man. added early signs were pointing to “average to slightly above average” yields.

While recent shower activity could lead to some head rot, Rex said the warmer and drier forecasts should help things along.

“We’ve had enough moisture now, they just need sunshine and heat,” he said.

Canadian farmers seeded 55,900 acres of sunflower seed in 2019, with Manitoba accounting for about 85 per cent of the total. The acreage was down from the 70,700 acres seeded the previous year.

Statistics Canada estimates 2019 production at 46,800 tonnes, which compares with the 57,300 tonnes grown in 2018 and the five-year average of 58,620 tonnes.

Rex estimated about two-thirds of the acreage was oilseed sunflowers, with confectionary accounting for less of the seeded area than in the past.

Looking to 2020, “I think (acres) will rebound a little bit,” Rex said, noting some farmers holding onto old-crop sunflowers at planting time this year decided to take a year off from sunflowers.

Cropping decisions will depend on how this year’s crop fares — and on pricing at seeding time.

“Pricing is close to the same as last year,” Burton said of the current market conditions. He was offering 23 cents/lb. delivered to the plant for oilseed sunflowers, in line with where bids have been for the past few years.

— Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for MarketsFarm, a Glacier FarmMedia division specializing in grain and commodity market analysis and reporting.

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