May 21, 2021
According to USDA, growers intend to plant 1.22 million acres of sunflowers in 2021, down 29% from 2020. Compared to last year, growers in seven of the eight major sunflower-producing states expect a decrease in sunflower acreage this year.
The largest decrease in planted area from last year is expected in North Dakota. Area intended for oil-type varieties, at 1.08 million acres, is down 28% from 2020, with non-oil varieties estimated at 137,000 acres, down 40% from last year. The estimate for oil-type varieties was considerably lower than industry expectations. Oil crushers and bird food buyers were looking for a 10% to15% increase in acres. Non-oil sunflower acres were in line with most traders’ expectations.
High seed stocks
USDA also reported sunflower stocks in all positions as of March 1, with seed stocks totaling 1.07 billion pounds, up 40% from March 1, 2020. All stocks stored on farms totaled 415 million pounds, and off-farm stocks totaled 659 million pounds.
Stocks of oil-type sunflower seed were 888 million pounds, up 36% from March 1, 2020. Of this total, 331 million pounds are on-farm stocks and 557 million pounds are off-farm stocks. Non-oil sunflower stocks totaled 186 million pounds, up 58% from last year at this time, with 83.8million pounds stored on the farm and 102 million pounds stored off the farm. Increased stocks were expected by traders given last year’s record oil-type yield and overall excellent production.
With lower-than-anticipated acres, diversifying market risk with some oil sunflower acres could be a good option in 2021. New-crop oil sunflower prices are $8 to $8.50 higher than the levels of a year ago, with oil crushers offering Act of God and cash contracts. Keep in mind, oils also receive a 2% price premium for each 1% of oil content that is over 40%. At current new-crop prices that can add significantly to the final price when delivered.
If there are any planting delays this year, another advantage to having late-season planted crops like sunflower in your rotation is that they can be planted until late June. The final planting dates for crop insurance purposes for sunflower vary by state and county:
North Dakota, June 10 or 15
South Dakota, June 15 or 20
Minnesota, June 15
After these dates, the coverage is reduced by only 1% per day. The actual final date that sunflowers can be planted is anywhere from 20 to 25 days after this date, depending on the county. To find the final planting date by county, got to sunflowernsa.com/growers/crop-insurance.
There is still time to take advantage of the market opportunities that sunflowers can offer. Late-planted crops like sunflower can perform well, and markets will reward that production. To keep up with market news and prices, visit sunflowernsa.com, which also has a link to buyers.
Sandbakken is the executive director of the National Sunflower Association. He writes from Mandan, N.D.
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