The difficult weather conditions this fall have helped slow harvest for sunflower, as well as other row crops, but there are some incentives for delivering sunflower off the combine, which isn’t the case for most of the other grain commodities.

“Nearby prices continue to offer a premium and incentive to deliver to crush plants,” according to John Sandbakken, executive director of the National Sunflower Association, writing in NSA’s weekly newsletter on Nov. 12.

“Deliveries are picking up as producers are prioritizing sunflower harvest to take advantage of current prices,” he added.

As mentioned, poor weather conditions have “assisted” in moving sunflower harvest along slowly in the U.S., including the Northern Plains. Sandbakken pointed out that in the first week of November, producers harvested an additional 178,000 acres, pushing 2019 harvested acres to about 390,000 acres. This represents 32 percent of this year’s projected harvested acres. It’s also behind the five-year average of 62 percent.

However, sunflower harvest hasn’t been delayed or slowed everywhere.

“Producers in Colorado, Kansas and Texas continue to make excellent harvest progress and are well ahead of the five-year average pace,” he said, adding that in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota, harvest remains behind the five-year average.

Sandbakken also pointed out that USDA recently released its 2020 crop outlook report, which includes an estimated 94.5 million acres of corn in the spring of 2020. That would be an increase of 5 percent from this year. In the report, USDA also projects farmers in 2020 will plant 84 million acres of soybeans which is up 10 percent for this coming season. Total wheat seedings are anticipated to remain flat at 45 million acres.

“Forecast yields used by USDA would result in the largest corn crop ever and the fourth-largest soybean crop in U.S. history,” he said. “If realized, this would create market anxiety as a return to normal weather in 2020 could result in bumper corn and soybean crops driving down market prices and create huge stockpiles that could take years to whittle down given the current trade environment.”

USDA did not give an estimate for 2020 sunflower acres.

Looking at prices at the crush plants, NuSun sunflower was listed at $18.10 per hundredweight at ADM in Enderlin, N.D., and $17.90 at Cargill in Fargo, N.D., for delivery in November. Prices for delivery in December were $17.90 at Enderlin and $17.85 at Fargo.

High-oleic prices were $18.50 at Enderlin and $18.35 at Fargo for November delivery. Prices for December delivery were $18.30 at Enderlin and $18.25 at Fargo. Elsewhere in North Dakota, high-oleic prices for both November and December delivery were $18 at Pingree and $17.40 at Hebron.

The crushing plants have come out with their cash prices and Act of God (AOG) contracts for 2020 new crop sunflower. At ADM in Enderlin, 2020 NuSun prices are $17.80 cash and $17.30 with an AOG. At Cargill in Fargo, NuSun new crop prices were $17.75 cash and $17.50 with an AOG clause.

High-oleic prices for 2020 new crop were $18.25 cash and $18 with an AOG at Fargo, and $18.30 cash and $17.80 with an AOG at Enderlin.

Something else to consider is the oil premiums that crush plants pay on sunflower, Sandbakken noted, adding that sunflower is the only oilseed that pays premiums for oil content above 40 percent.

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