Sunflowers doing well despite drought

A sunflower crop in Manitoba. (MysticEnergy/Getty Images)

MarketsFarm — Though many producers bemoan current drier-than-normal springtime conditions across the Prairies, sunflower crops are primed for a good year.

“As long as there’s enough moisture to germinate, they immediately grow a really deep root system,” said Ben Friesen of Scoular Canada.

While Statistics Canada estimated the 2019 sunflower acreage to remain pretty much flat from 2018 at 70,000, Friesen believed actual planted acreage may be slightly higher than reported, based on producers making last-minute acreage decisions.

“More acres likely would have been planted, but we ran out of planting seed in Canada,” he said.

All sunflower planting seed is shipped from the United States, based on pre-planned acreage.

Friesen clarified that while all crops are in need of some rain, dry weather is good for sunflower crops. Wetter summers leave sunflower crops prone to more diseases, so “a bit drier is always better than too wet.”

However, past years of below-average moisture have depleted the quality of subsoil, so sunflower producers are still hoping for some rain.

Long-term forecasts for the Prairies predict average to slightly below average precipitation levels.

“We’re hoping for lots of good weather for lots of growing,” Friesen said.

Current prices are steady, with confectionary seed around 30 cents/lb., and oilseed varieties between 22 and 23 cents/lb.

— Marlo Glass writes for MarketsFarm, a Glacier FarmMedia division specializing in grain and commodity market analysis and reporting.


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