As the 2020 sunflower harvest was getting under way in the tri-state region, sunflower prices were rising slightly.

“Nearby prices at the crush plants were up 15-55 cents this week as crushers and processors compete for seed delivery,” according to John Sandbakken, NSA executive director, commenting in the National Sunflower Association (NSA) Oct. 12 newsletter. “And 2021 new crop moved 15 cents higher.”

Looking at regional prices at the crush plants, as of Oct. 12, NuSun sunflower was listed at $17.45 per hundredweight at Cargill in West Fargo, N.D., for delivery in October and November. At ADM in Enderlin, N.D., the price was $17.25 for delivery in those two months.

Sandbakken also pointed out that 2021 new crop sunflower prices are out at the ADM Enderlin crush plant with cash contracts available. NuSun was listed at $17.75 cash and $17.25 with an Act of God (AOG) clause.

High-oleic prices at both West Fargo and Enderlin were $17.45 for delivery in October and November. Elsewhere in North Dakota, high-oleic prices at Pingree were $16.85 for delivery in October and November, while at Hebron the price was $16.15 per hundredweight for delivery in those two months.

Also, new crop 2021 high-oleic prices were posted at $18 cash and $17.50 with an AOG clause at ADM in Enderlin.

As stated earlier, sunflower harvest is under way. Total harvested acres stood at 210,000, as of Oct. 9, after producers took advantage of cooperative weather to harvest an additional 119,000 acres during the first full week of October.

“This represents 14 percent of this year’s projected harvested acres and is significantly ahead of the five-year average of 3 percent,” Sandbakken noted, adding that this year’s harvest is progressing at a rate that is about 2-4 weeks ahead of last year at this same time.

The market was also looking at the latest report from USDA that pegged 2020 sunflower production at 2.81 billion pounds. That’s up about 44 percent from the 2019 revised production number of 1.96 billion pounds.

“USDA added 19 million pounds to 2019 oil sunflower production and shaved off 6.6 million pounds from non-oil production,” he said.

Also, according to the report, area planted to sunflower is put at 1.70 million acres, up 10 percent from the June estimate and up 26 percent from last year. USDA noted too that U.S. growers are expected to harvest 1.62 million acres of sunflowers, up 29 percent from last year. “The overall average yield for all sunflower types is forecast, at 1,730 pounds per acre,” he said. “This is 170 pounds higher than last year’s yield and will be just one pound less than the record high average yield on record, if realized.

“The forecasted production in North Dakota would make it the leading sunflower producing state this year, at 1.23 billion pounds, up 64 percent from 2019,” he continued. “In South Dakota, production is forecast at 1.11 billion pounds, up 33 percent from last year.”

According to the latest crop report, 76 percent of Minnesota’s sunflower crop was rated in good-to-excellent condition with 17 percent fair and 7 percent poor-to-very poor. North Dakota’s crop was rated 51 percent good-to-excellent with 32 percent fair and 17 percent poor-to-very poor.

As he has stated in previous newsletters, Sandbakken also noted that producers should also consider the oil premiums that crush plants pay on sunflower.

“Sunflower is the only oilseed that pays premiums for oil content above 40 percent. Considering oil premiums that are offered at the crush plants on oil content above 40 percent at a rate of 2 percent price premium for each 1 percent of oil above 40 percent, this pushes a contract with 45 percent oil content gross return 10 percent higher per hundredweight,” he said. “The $17.95 contract increases to $19.75 and the cash $18.20 contract moves up to $20.”