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Quality Man. sunflower supplies tight

(Resource News International) — Manitoba’s sunflower crop turned out relatively poor this year, as growing conditions led to low yields and caused disease problems in some areas.

As a result, premium prices are available for any good quality sunflower seed, but the tighter supplies will likely cause some processors to bring up more U.S. sunflower seed in order to meet their commitments.

Oilseed sunflowers in the Red River Valley and east turned out very poor this year, with low yields and a lot of head rot and sclerotia, due to excessive moisture, said Earl Schnellert of Agri-Tel Grain at Beausejour, Man.

“Most of that stuff isn’t worth much more than 14 or 15 cents” per pound, he said.

Farther west, where the fields fared a little better, prices for oilseed sunflower seed can be found in the 16- to 18-cents per pound range.

Confectionary seed had the same problem, with poor crops in the central and eastern growing regions and better quality farther west, said Schnellert.

“If it wasn’t written off, it’s very ugly,” said Schnellert of the eastern crop. Out west, the overabundance of poor-quality confectionary seed has caused prices for better quality supplies to as high as 40 cents per pound, which is a 12-cent increase from the start of harvest.

“It’s a real mixed bag,” said Schnellert. He added that his company would be bringing up oilseed sunflowers from the U.S. this year, due to better-quality U.S. supplies.

“They had similar weather, but not quite as bad,” he added.

Some sunflowers are still standing in Manitoba and will be harvested through the winter.

While Manitoba’s sunflower crops did not turn out well overall, the demand is still good and sales are relatively decent, said Schnellert.

He didn’t think the poor season would turn farmers off from planting the crop next spring, with those growers who have sunflowers as a regular part of their rotation keeping them there.

Statistics Canada has pegged Manitoba’s 2009-10 sunflower crop at 101,900 tonnes, which would compare with 112,200 the previous year.