Bullish Scenario For Sunflowers

Bullish Scenario For Sunflowers

Prospective planting acres are below expectations.

USDA's Prospective Planting report is bullish for sunflowers. Acres to be planted to sunflowers is below expectations, says John Sandbakken, executive director of the National Sunflower Association.

USDA recently reported that according to its survey U.S. growers intend to plant a total of 1.81 million acres of sunflowers in 2012, up 17% from last year.  But even this increase is realized, the planted area will still be the second lowest since 1987, Sandbakken says.

Sunflower prices might remain strong. USDA is expecting U.S. growers to plant fewer acres than the market expected.

Area intended for oil type varieties, at 1.54 million acres, is up 19% from 2011. The area intended for non-oil varieties, estimated at 271,500 acres, is up 7% from last year but will still be the second lowest planted area for non-oils since 1987. Most market analysts had anticipated that total sunflower acres would be in the area of 2 million acres.

Prior to last year, North Dakota had been the leading sunflower-producing state. However, South Dakota surpassed North Dakota in sunflower production in 2011 as growers in North Dakota experienced extremely wet spring conditions which significantly reduced their acreage.

Planted area is expected to rebound this year in North Dakota to 760,000 acres, up 31% from 2011. However, this will be 14% below 2010 and will still be the second lowest planted area for North Dakota since 1976.

"Given the small 2011 US sunflower crop, sunflower seed stocks will be extremely tight by the end of this market year and will keep old crop prices firm," Sandbakken says.

According to USDA, sunflower stocks in all positions on March 1, 2012 totaled 910 million pounds, up only 4% from March 1, 2011. Stocks of oil type sunflower seed are 732 million pounds; of this total, 298 million pounds are on-farm stocks and 434 million pounds are off-farm stocks. Non-oil sunflower stocks totaled 178 million pounds, with 78.7 million pounds stored on the farm and 99.5 million pounds stored off the farm.

Source: National Sunflower Association

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