Sunflower planting surprise; markets dragged down by soybeans

Despite a later start to the year and cooler temperatures than ideal, the majority of both
confectionary and oil sunflower crops are rated as being in good condition throughout the
U.S.

The sluggish start to the growing season seems to have worked itself out with the
arrival of a few weeks of good weather late in July, except in those parts of North Dakota
that are really hurting for rain. In general, the crop looks to be a week behind schedule.

Double crop plantings are also behind in Kansas as the winter wheat crop came off late.

Confectionary sunflower plantings, at roughly 314,000 acres, are actually up in the U.S.
this year by about three per cent over 2007’s numbers, which is somewhat surprising
given that most had pegged acres to drop. Oil acres are up only about five per cent this
year, to just under 1.9 million acres.

A 10 per cent increase was widely predicted causing some
market watchers to scratch their heads at the modest acreage increase, especially as the
U.S. is reporting a 16% sunflower oil import increase year over year. The bulk of imports
came from Mexico, where exports were up an astonishing 44 per cent.

Sunflower plantings in
Manitoba, which grows most of the crop in Canada, are down an estimated 15, 000 acres
for an estimated 175,000-acre crop.

World supplies of both confectionary and oil sunflower types are tight, with old crop
supplies being drawn done by good demand from processors, crushers and the birdseed

market. However, weakness in the soybean oil market and good growing conditions have
pushed prices downward recently. Continued good weather may keep this market moving
sideways at best.

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