Sunflower with honeybee (0223)

Sunflowers in a cover-crop mix do a good job of attracting honeybees and other beneficial insects, says Derek Van De Hey.

Sunflowers are still in the price discovery process for 2019 crop insurance price elections. The final price elections won’t be announced until early March.

According to John Sandbakken, executive director of the National Sunflower Association, current oil type sunflower prices are at $16.80 and confections are $22.60 per hundredweight.

After the government shut-down finally ended, the long-awaited final crop production estimates were released by USDA in early February.

“The market was trading in a fog the past month without any fundamental data,” Sandbakken wrote in the Feb. 19 NSA newsletter. “USDA reduced 2017 sunflower production slightly but increased 2018 production almost 10 percent higher from its October estimate. Total production was pegged at 2.12 billion pounds, down 1 percent from 2017.”

The 2018 average sunflower yield per acre in the U.S. was 1,731 pounds which is a record high and an increase of 128 pounds from the 2017 crop.

“With some numbers in hand, old and new crop sunflower markets will be able to trade on supply and demand fundamentals in the months ahead,” he said, adding that USDA was to update its statistical guesses at its annual Agricultural Outlook Forum in February.

“Traders will pay close attention to USDA’s expectations for 2019 planted acres, supply and demand outlooks along with ending stocks figures. This will give the market some numbers to crunch ahead of the March reports,” he said.

Looking closer at the final crop production estimates for the 2018 sunflower crop, total production was pegged at 2.12 billion pounds, down 1 percent from 2017. Planted area, at 1.30 million acres, was 7 percent below the previous year and harvested area decreased 8 percent from 2017 to 1.22 million acres.

According to the report, South Dakota was the number one sunflower producing state at 975 million pounds, a decrease of 4 percent from 2017. Compared with 2017, planted area in South Dakota decreased 8 percent but yield increased 105 pounds to 1,840 pounds per acre.

“Production in North Dakota increased 5 percent primarily due to average yield, which increased 6 percent from the previous year,” Sandbakken said, adding the average yield in North Dakota increased 95 pounds from 2017 to 1,760 pounds per acre.

Total production of oil-type sunflower varieties in the U.S. was 1.90 billion pounds which was an increase of 3 percent from 2017.

“Compared with the previous year, harvested acres were down 6 percent, but the average yield increased by 144 pounds to 1,726 pounds per acre,” he said. “Production of non-oil sunflower varieties was estimated at 220 million pounds, a decrease of 24 percent from 2017.”

Harvested area was 123,500 acres which was down 25 percent from 2017. The average yield increased by 31 pounds from 2017 to 1,781 pounds per acre and represented the second highest yield on record for non-oil varieties.

There was little if any change in local sunflower prices. NuSun prices at Cargill in Fargo, N.D., were $17.15 per hundredweight for delivery in March. Prices at ADM in Enderlin, N.D., were $17.10 for March delivery. NuSun new crop 2019 prices at Fargo were $17.25 cash and $16.75 with an Act of God (AOG) clause. New crop prices at Enderlin were $17 cash and $16.50 with an AOG clause.

High oleic sunflower prices at Enderlin were $17.45 for delivery in March. High oleic prices in Fargo were $17.15. New crop 2019 high oleic prices were $17.60 cash and $17.10 with an AOG at Enderlin, and $17.25 cash and $16.75 with an AOG clause at Fargo.

In the near term Sandbakken said the trade and producers will keep an eye on South American weather and production for direction.

“Traders will continue to focus on South America weather reports and crop prospects as February is the critical month for oilseed development,” he concluded.