Sunny days seen ahead for sunflower crops

MarketsFarm — Though sunflowers were at the mercy of Western Canada’s unseasonable weather in 2018, the 2019 growing season may be more predictable.

In November 2018, some Manitoba sunflower crops were late to come off the field. A cold and rainy fall delayed the Prairie harvest, lowered average yields and impacted the overall size of the seed. In total, 57,300 tonnes of sunflower seed were produced in 2018.

Sunflower producers also weathered the Spitz sunflower seed plant shutdown in Alberta by finding other buyers for confectionary seed, mostly south of the border.

However, over two-thirds of all sunflowers grown in Western Canada were oil sunflowers, which reflected a shift away from previous emphasis on confectionary seeds.

Although producers are expected to maintain the same acreage for sunflowers as 2018, experts are predicting sunny days ahead.

“I’m very optimistic about the business,” said Ben Friesen of Scoular Canada. “Our two plants in Manitoba are kept full and busy.”

Inventory levels were impacted by the Spitz plant shutdown last year, due to the resulting company merger and logistical issues that delayed deliveries to end users. Growers are hesitant to increase their acreage in 2019 given the disruptions of the previous year.

“If you look at it on a crop chart, sunflower seeds will make money” said Friesen. “The bottom line is good.”

John Sandbakken of the National Sunflower Association expects U.S sunflower acreage may increase in 2019 due to attractive stock prices and tightening of inventory left over from previous years. U.S. producers grew about 1.34 million acres of sunflowers in 2018.

— Marlo Glass writes for MarketsFarm, a Glacier FarmMedia division specializing in grain and commodity market analysis and reporting.

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