Competition from Other Crops to Hurt Sunflower Output

Mar 03, 2021
After reaching the highest level in more than a decade in 2020, Canadian sunflower production is expected to fall back to earth this year.
Robert Deraas, the Minnesota-based general manager of Scoular’s sunflower and bird food business in Winkler, Man., said the big crop in 2020 was driven by strong demand and higher prices. However, he admitted growers may be inclined to seed other crops this year. “There’s much more crop competition than last year (from) all major and specialty crops. It’s made it more difficult, more competitive for sunflowers in this marketplace,” he said.
Last year, Canadian sunflower planted area jumped to almost 112,000 acres, an increase of more than 46%. Production climbed to 101,300 tonnes, the largest crop since 101,900 tonnes in 2009. American sunflower production increased last year as well, rising 52% to 1.35 million tonnes amid a sharp increase in planted area as well as average yields.
In its first new-crop supply-demand estimates released in January, Agriculture Canada projected new-crop sunflower seeded area at 86,485 acres, down 22% from 2020.
Sunflower prices in the leading US market have continued their upward trend of the past few weeks, with oil-type sunflower prices at North Dakota crushers currently ranging from about US$20.75 to $21.15/cwt. New-crop US prices run from about US$21 to $21.25/cwt.
Still, Deraas said sunflowers do offer growers plenty of benefits, including a later harvest date and relative market stability. He admitted the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt confection-type sunflowers, with a drop in snacking. However, he maintained that sunflower demand for bird feeding, both in terms of oil and confection, has remained strong.
“The demand is very stable and not subject so much to the highs and lows of world price fluctuations,” he said. “We fully expect acres will go down in 2021 and the price will be at or near 2020 levels.”
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