Seeding delays may help bolster Prairie sunflower acres

Delays in planting alternative crops this spring across Western Canada could translate into extra area being planted to sunflowers, according to an official with the National Sunflower Association of Canada (NSAC).

“Because the crop insurance deadlines are later for sunflowers than other crops, we could see a switch to the crop this spring,” said Darcelle Graham, NSAC’s executive director at Carman, Man.

Statistics Canada, in its recent planting intentions report, estimated farmers in the West, primarily in Manitoba, would seed 95,000 acres to sunflower varieties. In the spring of 2012, 100,000 acres were planted to sunflowers in Western Canada.

Graham said NSAC was working with sunflower plantings in 2013 coming in closer to 100,000 acres.

However, she felt with the cold and wet delaying the seeding of other crops, farmers in Manitoba may use the later crop insurance deadline to their advantage and plant a few extra acres to sunflowers rather than leaving fields bare.

Using Manitoba as an example, she said June 15 was the latest day for farmers to be eligible for crop insurance.

Graham said farmers in choosing to plant sunflowers, were likely to lean more toward the confectionary variety, given that some attractive contracting has been offered by companies.

“In a normal season the split between confectionary and oil varieties of sunflowers is about 50-50,” she said.

Graham acknowledged that should the weather improve, it wouldn’t take farmers in Western Canada very long to get seeding operations rolling and the original crop intentions seeded.

If that proves to be the case, area to sunflowers would likely be closer to the StatsCan forecast if not a touch lower.

— Dwayne Klassen writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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