As the calendar turned over to 2020, sunflower prices continued the pace set late in 2019, remaining higher compared to a year ago at this time. 

“The rally in sunflower prices is heating up again at the crush plants with nearby prices adding another 10 to 30 cents per hundredweight (the first week in January,)” said John Sandbakken, executive director of the National Sunflower Association, writing in NSA’s weekly newsletter on Jan.6. “A late and slower than normal harvest has oilseed crushers searching for seed supplies.”

Sandbakken noted that from the last week in December through the first week of the new year sunflower producers harvested an additional 75,000 acres. That puts the harvested acres of the 2019 crop to about 973,000 acres, or about 80 percent of 2019’s projected harvested acres.

“The remaining 20 percent of the crop still in the field is in the Dakotas and Minnesota and may not be harvested until spring,” he said. “Producers leaving sunflower harvest until spring mention high moisture as the reason for the harvest delay.”

Sunflower harvest in the High Plains states is wrapped up.

The market was also anticipating the upcoming USDA report on Jan. 10, which will include updated U.S. and world supply and demand tables, U.S. winter wheat plantings and quarterly stocks.

In the report, USDA will also release its latest 2019 sunflower production estimate.

“Most traders expect USDA to lower yields and total production due to the difficult harvest conditions producers faced this past growing season,” Sandbakken said.

“On the Chicago Board of Trade, trading has been driven by positioning ahead of the USDA reports,” he continued. “Talk of higher palm oil prices have been helping soy oil prices. Traders have also been talking about South American weather and how U.S. demand prospects will shape up going into the late winter, early spring time periods.”

Looking at prices at the region’s crush plants, NuSun sunflower was listed at $19.50 per hundredweight for delivery in January at ADM in Enderlin, N.D., and $19.35 at Cargill in Fargo, N.D. Prices for delivery in February were listed at $18.70 at Enderlin and $18.75 at Fargo.

High-oleic prices were $19.70 at Enderlin for January delivery and $19.05 for delivery in February. At Fargo, high-oleic prices were $19.55 for January delivery and $19 for delivery in February. Elsewhere in North Dakota, high-oleic prices for delivery in January and February were $19.50 at Pingree and $18.70 at Hebron for delivery for January and February.

NuSun new crop prices for 2020 were listed at $18.80 cash and $18.30 with an Act of God clause (AOG) at Enderlin and $18.75 cash and $18.50 with an AOG at Fargo.

2020 new crop high oleic sunflower at Enderlin were listed at $19.30 cash and $18.80 with an AOG. At Fargo, new crop high-oleic prices were listed at $19.25 cash and $19 with an AOG.

As he has in the past several newsletters, Sandbakken suggested that producers consider the oil premiums that crush plants pay on sunflower because it is the only oilseed that pays premiums for 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.

For example, the AOG $18.30 contract increases to $20.10 and the cash $19.30 contract moves up to $21.20.