Bigger sunflower crop expected for 2020

File photo of a sunflower crop in Manitoba. (MysticEnergy/Getty Images)

MarketsFarm — Canada will likely see its largest sunflower crop in a number of years in 2020 if weather conditions co-operate, as good end-user demand and solid returns for growers generate increased interest in the crop.

Canadian farmers intend to seed 104,400 acres of sunflowers this spring, which would be up 36 per cent on the year and the largest acreage base for the crop in a decade, according to Statistics Canada data. The majority of Canada’s sunflower crop is grown in Manitoba.

“Acreage for oilseed sunflowers will probably be up this year,” said Daryl Rex, agronomist with the National Sunflower Association of Canada (NSAC).

“It’s been a short market recently and prices are going up,” he added, linking the firm prices to the increased interest in seeding the crop.

NSAC executive director Darcelle Graham said both confectionary and oilseed buyers were anticipating acreage increases at meetings held over the winter, with the addition of some new players in the local market likely contributing to the growing area.

Sunflowers showed a good return on investment over the past year, and also held up well when a snowstorm hit in October, she said.

“It’s a profitable crop that they can include in the rotation.”

Spring weather will be a factor in the eventual seedings, however, as sunflowers need to be planted in Manitoba before the end of May.

“We’re in the window now, so if growers can get their sunflowers in the ground, everything should go as projected,” said Graham.

Oilseed sunflower seed is currently trading in the 25 cents/lb. area, while confectionary prices depend on the contract but were typically around 30 cents/lb., according to Graham.

— Phil Franz-Warkentin reports for MarketsFarm from Winnipeg.

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