Sunflower values steady despite summer hurdles

(Bruce Fritz photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

CNS Canada — Western Canadian sunflowers are seen continuing to draw steady prices, despite volatile conditions that throw many other crops up and down.

Ben Friesen, commodity purchasing manager with Keystone Grain, said prices have generally hung around the 32-cent-per-pound range for several months now and he expects that stability to continue.

“I don’t see a huge change on it at all, I think we’re going to stay at a fairly nice, stable price,” he said.

Early planted sunflowers in Manitoba are in the R6 stage, with later ones checking in at R4-R5, according to Thursday’s edition of the Manitoba Sunflower Crop Report, published by the National Sunflower Association of Canada.

Some leaf rust, sclerotinia and lygus bugs have been observed, according to the report, but all are still considered low in occurrence.

Continued dry weather in the province is starting to wear on the plants, however, and some rain will be needed, Friesen said.

Mexico and the U.S. continue to be Canada’s largest customers, along with the Middle East, he said.

Argentina is traditionally one of the world’s largest exporters of the oilseed and a chief rival to Canada. Friesen estimated current prices are similar to Canada’s.

Farmers down there are likely sourcing seed right now as they usually want to start planting in October. Argentina typically harvests its crop in March. The 2014 harvest was generally seen as “mediocre” by industry watchers.

Wet weather on the eastern edge of the Prairies has kept about 15,000 to 20,000 acres of sunflowers from being planted there.

Despite this setback, Friesen said, recent crop insurance estimates show Canadian sunflowers should hit the 90,000-acre mark, about 10,000 more than last year.

— Dave Sims writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

 

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