New crop sunflower contracts are starting to roll out for 2020. Crushers are offering cash NuSun contracts at $17.75 to $17.80 per hundred weight with Act of God (AOG) contracts in a range of $17.30 to $17.50 per cwt. High oleic cash contracts are at $18.25-$18.30 with AOG contracts at $17.80 to $18.55 per cwt.
In October, USDA released its first production estimate of the 2019 sunflower crop. The caveat to the USDA report is that it was based on growing conditions before a widespread powerful winter storm hit the Dakotas and Minnesota in mid-October and assumed normal weather for the remainder of the growing season.
By the beginning of October, harvest was underway in Colorado, Kansas and Texas but had not yet begun in the Dakotas. So, take these figures with a grain of salt and compare them to the next production estimate that will be released in January.
USDA pegged 2019 sunflower production at 2.25 billion pounds, up 7% from the revised 2018 production of 2.11 billion pounds. USDA shaved off 9 million pounds from 2018 oil sunflower production leaving non-oil production unchanged. Area planted, at 1.36 million acres, is down 2% from the June estimate but up 4% from last year. U.S. sunflower growers are expected to harvest 1.31 million acres, down 3% from June but up 4% from last year.
The overall average yield for all sunflower types is forecast at 1,724 pounds per acre. This is 7 pounds lower than last year’s yield but will be the third highest on record, if realized.
USDA expects lower yields in five of the eight major production states compared with last year, with increases only expected in Kansas, Nebraska and North Dakota.
Compared with last year, average yields forecast in North and South Dakota are up 72 pounds per acre and down 67 pounds per acre, respectively. The forecasted production in North Dakota would make it the leading sunflower producing state this year, at 956 million pounds, up 29% from 2018. In South Dakota, production is forecast at 913 million pounds down 6% from last year.
According to USDA, old crop sunflower stocks in all positions on Sept. 1 totaled 286 million pounds, down 26% from a year ago. All stocks stored on farms totaled 65.7 million pounds and off-farm stocks totaled 220 million pounds.
Stocks of oil type sunflower seed are 216 million pounds; of this total, 60.8 million pounds are on-farm stocks and 155 million pounds are off-farm stocks. Non-oil sunflower stocks totaled 70.4 million pounds, with 4.92 million pounds stored on the farm and 65.4 million pounds stored off the farm.
Stocks of oil type sunflower seed were 23% lower than last year at this time but were in line with trade expectations. Non-oil stocks were down 34% from last year and were also in line with industry estimates. The stocks figure for oils and non-oils were bullish market news. Depending on this year’s total production, seed stocks will be extremely tight by September.
You can find market news and prices at sunflowernsa.com.
Sandbakken is executive director of the National Sunflower Association.