Sunflowers in bloom 01 28 2019 (copy)

A smaller 2018 sunflower crop is helping, in part, to support sunflower prices, according to John Sandbakken, executive director of the National Sunflower Association, writing in NSA’s weekly newsletter on March 4. Good demand is the other half of that formula that’s holding up prices.

“A smaller 2018 U.S. sunflower crop and good demand are supporting old crop NuSun and high oleic prices which ended the week down 5 cents to unchanged at the crush plants,” Sandbakken said.

NuSun prices at Cargill in Fargo, N.D., were listed at $17.25 per hundredweight for March delivery and $17.35 for delivery in April. At ADM in Enderlin, N.D., NuSun prices were $17.05 for March delivery and $17.25 for April delivery. Prices listed were as of March 4.

High oleic prices at Fargo were $17.15 for delivery in March and $17.35 for delivery in April. At Enderlin prices were $17.40 for March delivery and $17.55 for delivery in April.

“Crush plants are offering cash and Act of God (AOG) contracts for fall delivery,” Sandbakken said. “New crop prices are in range of $16.45-$17.25 for NuSun with high oleics at $16.75-$18.00 at the crush plants.”

Sandbakken also pointed out that the price discovery period for crop insurance for sunflower ended on Feb. 28. The 2019 price elections for sunflower was to be announced this week.

“The price election for oil type sunflowers is expected to be $16.70 with confections at $22.50 per hundredweight,” he said. (Producers can find out the actual price elections at NSA.)

USDA recently held its annual Agricultural Outlook Forum where it updated its statistical estimates. According to Robert Johansson, USDA chief economist, U.S. corn acres could top 92 million acres this year. The average guess from the trade was 91.7 million acres.

It’s a different story for soybeans where acres are expected to drop in 2019.

“USDA anticipates 2019 U.S. soybean acres will trend lower this year, reaching around 85 million acres,” Sandbakken said. “This is below the average guess from the trade of 86.1 million acres.”

One of the reasons for the anticipated drop in acres is the ongoing tariffs and trade dispute with China. That said, negotiations are continuing and there are rumors that China will be buying U.S. soybeans again.

“According to Johansson, 2019 average soybean prices will be near a five-year low and will likely need at least through 2020 to recover further due to current large ending stocks,” Sandbakken said. “Traders will work off USDA’s expectations for 2019 planted acres, supply and demand outlooks along with ending stocks figures until more reports are released at the end of March.”

The market will also continue to keep an eye on South American weather and production outlooks.