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A thick stand of sunflowers Lon Tonneson
COMING ON: A thick stand of sunflowers grows quickly in this file photo. Sunflower production is poised to increase by 26% this year, according to USDA estimates.

USDA projects increase in sunflower production

The larger sunflower crop could give the industry a chance to increase market share.

USDA’s initial estimate of U.S. sunflower production is 2.4 billion pounds, which would represent an increase of 26% from last year.

The higher production is based on an increase in planted area from 1.35 million to 1.56 million acres. The increase counters the trend towards lower sunflower planted area and is the highest since 2016. March 2020 seed stocks at a four-year low, coupled with the highest new crop prices since the 2015-2016 marketing year, encouraged planting this year.

The production increase will allow for market share gains for sunflower products. Industry estimates have domestic sunflower crush increasing by 8% in the 2020-2021 marketing year to 1.1 billion pounds.

Exports of sunflower oil are predicted to increase to 110 million pounds. Domestic sunflower oil consumption will continue to rise and reach 350 million pounds in 2020-2021. Exports of confection in-shell seed are expected to increase by 33% from 90 million to 120 million pounds, reversing the decline of the past two years. Bird food demand is projected to be equal to last year.

Global sunflower production 

For 2020-2021, global sunflower seed production is projected up 3% to 56.7 million metric tons. Global sunflower crush is projected to grow to 51 MMT with sunflower oil exports up 3% to 12 MMT. Worldwide sunflower meal exports are forecast to grow slightly on continued growth in demand. Consumption growth is projected to keep global oil stocks essentially equal to 2019-2020 levels while meal stocks will decline slightly.

In Ukraine, sunflower production is expected to increase to 17 MMT in 2020-2021 based on increased planted hectares. The larger crop will allow Ukraine’s sunflower seed crush to increase by 2% to 16.7 MMT.

The 2020-2021 Russian sunflower crop is projected to increase 1% to 15.5 MMT based on a 2% increase in planted area.

European Union sunflower area in 2020-2021 is seen decreasing 2% in sunflower planted area to 4.2 million hectares, primarily in Romania and Spain. EU sunflower production is expected to match the 2019-2020 harvest of 9.6 MMT.

Improved production profitability in Argentina could encourage a rebound in sunflower area in 2020-2021 to 1.9 million hectares versus 1.6 million in 2019-2020. Based on a higher planted area, Argentine sunflower production is projected up 21% in 2020-2021 to 4 MMT. The Argentine sunflower crush is expected to increase by 5% to 3.4 MMT.

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. New crop sunflower seed prices could see 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.

Sandbakken is executive director of the National Sunflower Association.

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