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Sunflower acres still on downslide this seasonSunflower acres still on downslide this season

Sunflower Extra: North and South Dakota see largest decrease in oil-type acres.

John Sandbakken

July 25, 2023

3 Min Read
field of sunflowers
WHAT NOW? News of decreased planted acres leads to sunflower prices trending higher, for now.Danny Lehman/Getty Images

According to USDA, the area planted to sunflowers in 2023 decreased 20% from 2022 and totals 1.35 million acres. Harvested area for all types is expected to decrease 20% from last year to 1.29 million acres.

Planted area of oil-type varieties, at 1.18 million acres, is down 24% from 2022. Harvested area for oil-types is expected to decrease 23% from last year to 1.14 million acres. Planted acreage of non-oil varieties, estimated at 164,000, is up 15% from last year. Harvested area is expected to increase 20% from last year to 153,500 acres.

Compared with last year, oil-type acreage decreased in all eight major sunflower-producing states. The state with the largest decrease from last year is South Dakota, where the planted area decreased 190,000 acres compared with last year.

North Dakota also had a large decrease compared with last year, with the planted area down 110,000 acres from the previous year. Compared with last year, growers in five of the eight major sunflower-producing states had increases or no change in planted acreage for non-oil varieties.

The largest increase compared with last year occurred in North Dakota, where planted acreage increased by 18,000 acres. Initial estimates using trend yields peg oil-type sunflower production at 1.9 billion pounds, down 24% from last year, with non-oil sunflower production at 263 million pounds, up 10% from 2022.

What’s next?

So, what does this mean in terms of prices for the rest of this marketing year heading into harvest? After this news hit the market, sunflower prices trended higher as the industry digested the numbers making sure to cover nearby needs.

This was the first report of planted acres, and these reports can change from month to month. Planting was still going on in some states when the survey was taken, so changes to planted acres will most likely occur. In the past five years, USDA has changed final planted and harvested sunflower acres significantly by the time the final crop production numbers were released at the end of the year.

In March, USDA reported stocks of oil-type sunflower seed at 815 million pounds, with non-oil sunflower stocks at 136 million pounds, up 5% and 7% respectively from last year at the same time. This level of stocks gives crushers, confection and bird food makers some cushion before new crop arrival at the plants.

However, given the current excellent bird food and oil demand, stocks will be extremely tight. This should keep old-crop prices firm and there is a good likelihood that price premiums will be in place to encourage growers to desiccate and harvest early.

Now that the USDA report is factored into the market, buyers will anxiously watch crop production prospects before making longer-term purchases. Mid-August through September is the critical time frame for sunflowers.

In October, USDA will provide an updated estimate for oil-type and non-oil sunflower production. This report and demand news will set the tone for new-crop sunflower price direction. To keep up with market news and prices, go to sunflowernsa.com.

Sandbakken is executive director of the National Sunflower Association.

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About the Author(s)

John Sandbakken

National Sunflower Association

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