Wet Manitoba weather hurts sunflower area

(Resource News International) — Cool temperatures and wet soil conditions are expected to cause a small setback in the amount of area that will be seeded to sunflowers in Manitoba this spring.

“We’re still not sure how much sunflower area will be lost because of the adverse weather in the province, but it’s safe to say there will be some,” said Darcelle Graham, executive director of the National Sunflower Association of Canada.

The planting of sunflowers, much like that of any other crop in Manitoba, is being delayed by the wet soil conditions and the lack of heat, she said.

“Sunflowers can withstand a bit of cold, but obviously producers don’t want to put them in the ground too soon,” Graham said.

A lot of the sunflower area also remains under water in southern Manitoba, she noted.

“The flood waters that hit southern Manitoba have begun to recede, but with the absence of heat, the pace has been extremely slow,” Graham said.

No sunflowers have been seeded to date, she said.

NSAC had been expecting seeded area to sunflowers in Manitoba to roughly hold last year’s level of 170,000 acres or possibly be a bit higher, she said.

Statistics Canada, in its acreage survey released April 24, pegged sunflower area in Manitoba in 2009 at 140,000 acres.

“The prices for sunflowers have held pretty stable through the year despite the economic downturn, which in turn has attracted the attention of producers,” Graham said, explaining why NSAC was thinking area would hold steady if not climb a bit.

Cash prices for confectionary sunflower varieties have held near the 30-cent-per-pound range for fall delivery, while prices for oil varieties have been in the 19-cent-per-pound area.

A high carryover of oil types of sunflowers from last year were linked to the weaker price.

Producers ideally would generally like to have sunflowers in the ground by mid-May, which is what they were able to do last year, she said. Producers have also seeded sunflowers in Manitoba as late as the first week of June, but after that the success rate with the crop is not as good.

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