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Small Sunflower Crop Faces Competition

The size and quality of Manitoba s sunflower crop is still very much up in the air, but the sheer lack of acres planted this spring will keep supplies on the tight side and should underpin the domestic market.

Manitoba accounts for nearly all of Canada s sunflower production, and the provincial crop is currently estimated at only 16,400 tonnes by Statistics Canada, which compares with 67,500 tonnes a year ago. Wet conditions in the spring were said to have limited how many acres of the long season crop were able to go in the ground.

Widespread frost the morning of Sept. 14 and 15 likely caused only minimal damage to the few sunflower fields in the province, many crops were thought to be quite mature, according to a Manitobabased sunflower dealer.

It s a wait and see game right now, said the dealer. He expected the harvest to begin in another three to four weeks, depending on the weather.

From a marketing standpoint, prices in southern Manitoba are strong at 35 cents per pound for confectionery and up to 40 cents per pound for oilseed sunflowers, according to the dealer. While the spread between the two varieties typically favours confectionery seed, the relative tightness in the oilseed market was accounting for the relative strength there.

The lack of domestic supplies was limiting the activity in the market, and could lead to a slow export program.

China, Argentina, and Hungary all have large crops, which will make it hard to export North American supplies, said the dealer.

With the U.S. also planting fewer sunflower acres, North American supplies will be on the tight side going forward, which should be supportive for prices. However, stocks will still be larger than the domestic demand, which means those supplies going to the export market will likely see prices come under pressure given the larger product ion elsewhere.

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Phil Franz-Warkentin - MarketsFarm

Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for MarketsFarm specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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