CNS Canada — Wet weather may have cost western Canadian producers 20,000 acres of sunflowers last year, according to one industry watcher who’s hopeful 2015 will be a little kinder.
“We were anticipating over 100,000 acres last year and as it turned out we came into that 80,000 range,” said Ben Friesen, purchasing manager for Legumex Walker at Winkler, Man.
Spring rains in 2014 flooded many Prairie fields before they even got a chance to get going, but “I think we’ll recapture that (acreage) back and I think we’ll be better than last year,” he said, adding that most of the acres would go into Manitoba.
The 2014 crop that made it to the bin is quite active in the market right now due to the weakness of the Canadian dollar, he noted.
Prices are hovering in the 30 cents per pound range for confectionary seed, similar to where they were for much of last year. New crop is sitting at 28 cents per pound, according to Friesen.
“The price hasn’t changed a whole lot but there’s maybe a little better movement right at the moment,” he said.
While the start of the new crop year is still a ways off, Friesen said, “in general, I feel pretty good about the year; I think as far as the market’s going I feel it will be a good market for sunflowers.”
One of Canada’s largest competitors, Argentina, is already starting preparations for the new harvest.
“They’re coming into harvest of their crop again within a month. They’ll be starting to harvest here in mid-March,” Friesen said, noting dry conditions in the country have raised expectations for the crop.
In particular, he noted, Argentinian fields haven’t experienced the same level of fungus that was prevalent in 2014.
“They were drier, which is usually good for sunflowers, so I imagine they’ll be tough on the market again this summer,” he said.
The Middle East, Mexico and the U.S. are expected to remain the staple markets, but not the only markets, for the Canadian crop. “Basically we ship all over the world,” Friesen said.
— Dave Sims writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.