As spring planting consumes most producers’ time these days, sunflower growers are looking at prices that have fluctuated greatly over the past few weeks.

“Nearby old crop NuSun prices were unchanged to up 25 cents with high-oleic unchanged to up 5 cents in the past week,” said John Sandbakken, executive director of the National Sunflower Association, writing in NSA’s weekly newsletter on May 11. “June old crop prices were unchanged to up 60 cents. New crop NuSun prices were down 15 cents to unchanged with high-oleic new crop down 35 cents to unchanged.

“Despite the recent downward movement, new crop sunflower prices are still trading above historical levels,” he added.

Looking at prices at the region’s crush plants, as of May 12, NuSun sunflower was listed at $19.45 per hundredweight for delivery in May at both ADM in Enderlin, N.D., and at Cargill in West Fargo, N.D. The price for delivery in June was $19.05 at Enderlin and $19 at West Fargo.

High-oleic prices were $19.80 at West Fargo, and $19.75 at Enderlin for delivery in May. The price for delivery in June was $19.30 at West Fargo and $19.25 at Enderlin.

NuSun new crop prices for 2020 were listed at $17.30 cash at West Fargo and $16.80 at Enderlin.

High-oleic sunflower new crop prices for 2020 at Cargill in West Fargo, were listed at $17.30 cash, and $17 at ADM in Enderlin.

Elsewhere in North Dakota, the price for 2020 new crop high-oleic sunflower was listed at $16.50 cash at Pingree. At Cargill in Hebron, the new crop price was posted at $15.80 cash.

As he has in past newsletters, Sandbakken 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,” he said. “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 and pushes a $17.30 contract up to $19.”

The oilseed market, including sunflower, did see some positive news of late with China making some soybean purchases from the U.S. as part of that country’s efforts to fulfill its Phases One trade deal with the U.S. However, with countries around the world dealing with drops in their economies due in large part to the coronavirus, there is concern that China will be able to meet the terms of the deal.

“Regardless of recent positive news in U.S. and China relations, traders are questioning whether or not China will live up to its Phase One purchase commitments,” Sandbakken said. “Trade numbers released last week saw a sharp decline in U.S. exports to China and sowed doubt that Beijing would be able to live up to its initial commitment to buy $76.7 billion above 2017 levels for agricultural goods, manufactured goods, energy goods and services.

“Traders will no doubt continue keeping a close eye on weekly export sales reports in the weeks ahead. Coronavirus developments will also be closely monitored as states re-open their economies,” he said.

Looking at the latest WASDE report (World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate), USDA forecast total U.S. oilseed production at 123.2 million tons for the 2020-21 marketing year. That’s an increase of 16.1 million tons from 2019-20 based on higher soybean production. Production forecasts for sunflower, peanuts and cotton are also higher, while canola production in the U.S. is forecast lower based on reduced yield estimates.

Global production of high-oil content seeds is projected up 3 percent from 2019-20 on increased canola production for Canada, Australia, and Ukraine, and higher sunflower seed production for Argentina and Ukraine. Partly offsetting that is lower sunflower production for Turkey.