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Sunflower acres predicted to decrease

MOHD RASFAN/Getty Images Field of sunflowers
INCREASED DEMAND: Even with decreased acreage, domestic crush is expected to increase due to predicted demand.
Sunflower Extra: While acres are down, crush demand increases.

According to USDA, growers intend to plant 1.22 million acres of sunflowers in 2021, down 29% from 2020. Using a trend yield, the initial estimate of 2021 U.S. sunflower production is pegged at 2.1 billion pounds, which would represent a decrease of 14% from last year. Most of the reduction is expected for non-oil-type sunflower.

According to USDA, farmers intend to plant 137,000 acres of non-oil-type sunflower this year, down 40% from a year ago. Assuming trend yields, the 2021 output of non-oil-type sunflower could result in export demand rationing and minimal ending stocks. A less dramatic production change is likely for oil-type sunflower, which accounts for 89% of total acreage. Based on intended acreage and using a trend yield, oil-type sunflower production may decline to 1.85 billion pounds in 2021.

Crush to increase

In the current marketing year, domestic crush of sunflower is expected to increase to 1.2 billion pounds. Bird food demand is projected to be equal to last year. Overall, the 2020-21 marketing year is expected to be one that will allow sunflower products the chance to maintain market share in domestic markets.

Seed stocks were ample at the beginning of March and will give crushers some cushion next year if 2021 production turns out as expected.

For 2021-22, global sunflower production is forecasted to grow 5.2 million metric tons to nearly 55 MMT, according to USDA. Most of the increase is driven by Ukraine, Russia and the European Union, where yields in all three countries are forecast higher than the previous crop, which suffered due to dry weather.

Beginning seed stocks are forecast at the lowest level in over 20 years due to a 5 MMT decline in 2020-21 production and sustained demand for seed.

Global sunflower crush is projected to grow to 50 MMT, with exports forecast up 14% to 12.6 MMT. Import demand is driven by the European Union, India, Iraq and Turkey. Global oil stocks are forecast to rebound in 2021-22 but remain well below the five-year average.

Record consumption

Despite prices doubling over the past year, consumption of sunflower oil is forecast at a record, as prices of competing vegetable oils show similar price gains. Worldwide sunflower meal exports are forecast to increase significantly on continued growth in demand.

Now that the South American oilseed harvest is finished, the attention of the oilseed market will shift to U.S. crop conditions and production prospects in the months ahead. Weather will be the main market factor, with drought conditions prevalent across the sunflower growing region.

New-crop sunflower seed prices should remain firm in the months ahead, unless there is some pressure from lower prices in the soybean market during the first part of the marketing year. This can change dramatically over the course of the next few months, depending upon the number of acres planted and yields achieved at harvest.

Your one-stop shop to get answers to sunflower production questions and to keep up with market news and prices is at sunflowernsa.com.

Sandbakken is executive director of the National Sunflower Organization.

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