The week before USDA released its Prospective Planting report for 2020, sunflower prices dipped slightly.

“This week nearby prices softened as producers took advantage of market-high prices at the crush plants and were aggressive sellers,” said John Sandbakken, executive director of the National Sunflower Association, writing in NSA’s weekly newsletter on March 30.

“Overall, oil sunflower prices have remained steady throughout this winter despite the weakness in other commodities,” he continued. “The 2019 sunflower crop was smaller than expected and good demand has supported prices for most of this marketing year.

“New crop oil sunflower prices continue to be higher than a year ago at this same time with oil crushers still offering Act of God (AOG) and cash contracts,” he added.

Looking at prices at the region’s crush plants, as of March 30 NuSun sunflower was listed at $20.30 per hundredweight for delivery in April at ADM in Enderlin, N.D., and $20.25 at Cargill in West Fargo, N.D.

High-oleic prices were FH $20.65 and LH $19.50 at West Fargo, and $20.50 at Enderlin for April delivery.

NuSun new crop prices for 2020 were listed at $17.90 cash and $17.30 with an AOG clause at West Fargo, and $17.75 cash and $17.05 with an AOG at Enderlin.

High-oleic sunflower new crop prices for 2020 at ADM in Enderlin were listed at $18.15 cash and $17.45 with an AOG. At Cargill in West Fargo, new crop high-oleic prices were listed at $18 cash and $17.40 with an AOG.

Elsewhere in North Dakota, the price for 2020 new crop high-oleic sunflower was listed at $17.65 cash at Pingree. At Cargill in Hebron, the new crop price was posted at $16.95 cash and $16.35 with an AOG.

USDA’s Prospective Plantings report, released March 31, provides the initial indication of potential acreage levels for spring crops and sets the tone for production potential as producers move into planting season.

“Industry members are expecting oil sunflower acres to show a moderate increase from 2019,” Sandbakken said. “Very attractive new crop confection sunflower prices this year have the industry expecting acres to rebound to more historic levels after last year’s disappointing production.”

Other crops that have some interaction with the sunflower market are corn and soybeans. USDA expects farmers to plant 97 million acres to corn which is above the range of pre-report expectations.

“If realized, it will be the highest acreage since 2012,” Sandbakken said.

Most private firms were forecasting as much as a 10 million acre increase in corn plantings ahead of the report.

Soybean acreage is estimated at 83.5 million acres, which is toward the low end of pre-report expectations. Private estimates had 2020 soybean acres at around 85 million acres, which would have been a five million acre increase in soybean acreage.

“If producers do match this estimate it would be the third largest soybean planted acreage on record,” he said.