2018 Prairie sunflower harvest delayed by cold, wet weather

For sunflowers it was a tough year that began with dry conditions at seeding time, more dry weather in July and August, only to be topped off by a cold, wet fall. But the quality of sunflowers is said to be pretty good in Western Canada.

Darcelle Graham, executive director of the National Sunflower Association of Canada in Carman, Man., said the poor autumn weather slowed harvest, but most of the crop is off the field.

“We may have had some growers turn some heat on or put the fans on to help dry down the sunflowers after harvest,” she commented.

Some of the seeds may be on the small side according to Graham and that’s something Cody Burton is expecting with sunflowers out his way.

“I haven’t been able to bring in any of my new crop yet. Most of it is still standing,” said Burton of Nestibo Agra Commodity Processors in Deloraine, Man.

“Generally we like to be 28 pounds to the bushel or higher. I expect to see a lot below that. The other thing I expect to see is small seed, almost immature seed,” he said.

Burton said producers are currently receiving C$0.23 per lb. for oil sunflowers and perhaps C$0.20 per lb. or better for confectionary sunflowers.

Graham said the closure of the Spitz plant in Bow Island, Alta., earlier this year didn’t have much of an effect on confectionary sunflowers in 2018. Many of the producers in Manitoba kept their acres pretty much at the same levels as previous years, being able to find domestics buyers.

Nevertheless, about two-thirds of sunflowers grown in Western Canada are oil sunflowers, a shift away from confectionary that has been ongoing for the last few years.

Manitoba remains Canada’s reigning sunflower champion by a very wide margin. Of the 128,650 pounds of sunflowers grown in the country in 2018, about 110,700 pounds were produced in Manitoba according to Statistics Canada. The rest of the country’s sunflowers come from Alberta with over 7,900 pounds this year with Saskatchewan close behind at almost 7,750 pounds. Quebec grew only 882 pounds.

– With files from Terry Fries, Commodity News Service Canada

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