North American sunflowers looking good early

(Bruce Fritz photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

CNS Canada –– Sunflower crops in key growing regions of North America are in relatively good shape early in the season, according to reports. However, those good conditions have put some nearby pressure on values, with spot pricing expected to take some direction from the weather and acreage reports over the next few weeks.

Sunflower crops in Manitoba have benefited from warm and moist conditions, according to a report from the National Sunflower Association of Canada.

However, the good weather is also conducive for disease, insects and weeds, with the organization recommending farmers take appropriate measures to mitigate those potential issues.

Manitoba accounts for nearly all of Canada’s sunflower production, with Statistics Canada forecasting planted area in 2016 at 80,000 acres. That would compare with 100,000 acres the previous year.

StatsCan releases updated data on June 29, and many industry participants think the actual plantings may not be down by as much on the year as originally expected.

Across the border, U.S. sunflower area is forecast at 1.859 million acres by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, compared to 1.693 million the previous year. The Dakotas and Minnesota account for the bulk of the U.S. acreage.

The U.S. crop is in a very early stage, but is mostly in the good to excellent stage with seeding taking place about two and a half weeks earlier than normal, according to John Sandbakken, executive director of the U.S. National Sunflower Association.

“It looks very good right now, but there’s still a long way to go until harvest,” he said.

From a pricing standpoint, Sandbakken said USDA’s updated acreage estimates on June 30 could swing values one way or the other. Freeze damage earlier in the spring likely led to reseeding of some crops, but he said it was still unknown whether that led to an increase or decrease in sunflowers.

“We’re very competitive with other crops,” he said, “demand for the oil and in-shell seeds on the confection side have been very strong.”

The U.S. grows about 80 per cent oilseed sunflowers and 20 per cent confectionary. As a result, activity in the U.S. soyoil market will also set the tone for sunflower seed prices, said Sandbakken.

Uncertainty over Britain’s upcoming June 23 referendum on the country’s continued membership in the European Union was another factor in the background that the sunflower market was also caught up in, he said, despite the limited direct influence.

— Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. Follow CNS Canada at @CNSCanada on Twitter.

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