Dakota Farmer

Sunflower acres expected to decline

Sunflower Extra: Planted sunflower acres predicted to drop 27% in 2024.

John Sandbakken, Executive director

April 23, 2024

3 Min Read
dried sunflowers in field
DECREASE: Producers in all eight major sunflower states are expecting a decrease in planted acres this year. Nirian/Getty Images

According to the USDA, growers intend to plant 957,500 acres of sunflowers in 2024, down 27% from 2023. Compared with last year, growers in all 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 South Dakota. Area intended for oil-type varieties, at 804,000 acres, is down 31% from 2023, with non-oil varieties estimated at 153,500 acres, which is about equal to last year. The estimate for oil-type varieties was within industry expectations.

Oilseed crushers and bird food buyers were expecting an acre decrease given large carryover seed stocks. Non-oil sunflower acres were in line with most traders’ thoughts.

The USDA also reported sunflower stocks in all positions as of March 1. Seed stocks totaled 1.16 billion pounds, up 22% from March 1, 2023. All stocks stored on farms totaled 648 million pounds, and off-farm stocks totaled 515 million pounds.

South Dakota to see largest decrease

Stocks of oil-type sunflower seed were 1.03 billion pounds, up 26% from March 1, 2023. Of this total, 590 million pounds are on-farm stocks, and 444 million pounds are off-farm stocks. Non-oil sunflower stocks totaled 128 million pounds, down 5% from last year at this time, with 57 million pounds stored on the farm and 71 million pounds stored off the farm. Increased stocks were expected by traders given last year’s near-record-setting oil-type yield and overall excellent production.

With lower acres, diversifying market risk with some oil sunflower acres could be a good option in 2024. New crop oil sunflower prices are competitive with other minor oilseeds, with oil crushers offering act of God and cash contracts.

Keep in mind that 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.

In North Dakota, it is either June 10 or 15, South Dakota is June 15 or 20, and all of Minnesota is 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, visit sunflowernsa.com/growers/crop-insurance.

There still is time to take advantage of the market opportunities that sunflowers can offer. Late-season-planted crops like sunflower can perform well, and markets will reward that production.  To keep up with market news and prices, go to sunflowernsa.com.

The National Sunflower Association website also has a link to buyers on it for you to contact processors of oils, confections, hullers and bird food to contract 2024 acres. Follow us on X @NatlSunflower.

About the Author(s)

John Sandbakken

Executive director, National Sunflower Association

John Sandbakken of Mandan, N.D., has been the executive director of the National Sunflower Association since 2012. Before his current post, he was NSA's international marketing director for 16 years.

The National Sunflower Association is a combination of United States sunflower growers and industry members. NSA is a nonprofit organization working in the areas of market development, education, production and utilization research.

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