Sunflowers off to good start in Manitoba

CNS Canada — Manitoba’s sunflower crop is off to a good start this year, having largely missed out on any damage from adverse weather over the May long weekend.

“We had a good early start (to spring seeding) in the eastern part of the province and things went into some nice warm ground,” said Troy Turner, an agronomist with the National Sunflower Association of Canada.

The cold and wet Victoria Day long weekend has led to some concerns with canola and other crops, but Turner said the earliest-seeded sunflowers were only just starting to emerge and beat the frost.

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Long-range forecasts look relatively favourable for sunflowers heading into the summer, though Turner noted another frost would now likely cause damage and the weather will need to continue to co-operate through the growing season.

Farmers in the province’s west are still seeding sunflowers, as increased precipitation caused delays. However, Turner noted, they still have a couple of weeks to get the crop in the ground.

Statistics Canada is forecasting Manitoba sunflower area at 125,000 acres, which would be well above the 75,000 acres seeded the previous year and the largest acreage base in six years.

Turner said early industry estimates for this year had been closer to 100,000 acres. Some of the extra area included in the StatsCan forecast is likely being planted in Saskatchewan, which isn’t yet included by itself in the official numbers.

There is usually about a 75/25 split between confectionary and oilseed sunflowers in Canada, according to Turner.

That balance may shift slightly this year, he added; confectionary acres won’t be down, but more of the acres seeded this year will likely go into oilseed sunflowers, as they are easier to grow and are seeing solid demand.

Contracting prices were in the 28 cents per pound range for confectionary sunflower seed, while oilseed prices were anywhere from 22 to 24 cents, he said, adding that “you can make a pretty good dollar at those levels compared to other crops.”

While sunflowers may need some specialized equipment, “it will pay for itself with a good-sized crop.”

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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