Manitoba sunflower acres set to rise

CNS Canada –– An early spring and drier conditions in western Manitoba, together with relatively favourable prices, should lead to an increase in sunflower plantings in the province this year.

“Assuming that the southwest won’t be wet this year, we’re expecting that acres will be over 100,000,” said Darcelle Graham, executive director of the National Sunflower Association of Canada. “How much over? I don’t know.”

Manitoba accounts for nearly all of the sunflowers grown in Canada, with its southwest corner a prime growing region. However, excess moisture in recent years has limited sunflower area in the region.

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Manitoba farmers seeded 75,000 acres of sunflowers in 2014, and have only averaged about 80,000 acres over the past five years. However, the previous five-year average (2005-09) was 180,000 acres, according to Statistics Canada data.

Graham said sunflowers price out favourably compared to other cropping options, and should offer good returns for farmers. There were good contracts available earlier in the winter, she said, with acres likely split 70/30 between confectionary and oilseed varieties.

For old-crop sunflowers, spot bids for oilseed varieties range from about 23 to 25 cents per pound, according to Prairie Ag Hotwire data. Confectionary bids were too few and far between for any quotes.

Don Hardy of Nestibo Agra at Deloraine, Man. said old-crop supplies of good-quality oilseed sunflower seed is getting very tight, with his company only really dealing with previously contracted stocks.

For confectionary seed, Hardy said there were still some long confectionary supplies available in the countryside, but short round confectionary seeds were tight.

“It’s a quality issue as much as anything,” said Hardy, adding that there was plenty of lower-quality sunflower seed being held by farmers, “but we have no market for it.”

Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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

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