Rain dampens forecast

Sunflower acres | Seeded acres unlikely to hit 120,000, says processor

Manitoba sunflower acres won’t increase as much as expected because persistent rain has hampered seeding in the southwestern corner of the province.

Ben Friesen, commodity purchasing manager with Keystone Grain, a special crops processor in Winkler, Man., was expecting sunflower acres to rise significantly this year.

“Originally, I had projected Manitoba in the 120,000 acre range,” he said.

“I’m thinking we could possibly be losing 10,000 acres over there (in the southwest).”

Manitoba farmers seeded 70,000 acres of sunflowers last year, which was one of the lowest in the last eight years.

June 10 was the seeding deadline for full insurance coverage for sunflowers in Manitoba.

Sunflower growers can plant until June 15 and receive 20 percent reduced coverage.

Friesen said the industry likely picked up a few late acres.

“I’m still in that 110,000–115,000 (acres) projection.”

Market analysts told crop and production shows last winter that sunflower acres were poised to increase because the crop penciled out as one of the most profitable options for growers.

Processors were offering production contracts of 32 cents per pound for confectionary sunflowers and 22 cents per lb. for black oils.

Manitoba traditionally grows more confectionary sunflowers than black oils, but black oils have been gaining ground over the last couple of years. Prices have been comparable and at times are higher than confectionary sunflowers.

However, a 10 cent price premium this year means confectionaries will regain acres.

“Last year, we were down to almost 50-50. I think we’re going back to more the historical, 60-40 type of split.”

John Sandbaaken, executive director of the National Sunflower Association in the United States, said growers in northwestern, northeastern and southwestern North Dakota have been battling soaked soil this spring.

He said it’s hard to pin down acreage because North Dakota farmers will plant sunflowers in the third and fourth weeks of June.

However, acres will likely increase from 2013, when thousands of acres in north-central and northwestern North Dakota were too wet for seeding. It resulted in one of the worst years for sunflower production in the state.

“Last year there were 499,000 acres (of sunflowers),” Sandbaaken said.

“In the March (U.S. Department of Agriculture) intentions report, it was projected that would increase to 670,000 acres.”

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