Sunflower production down; crush plant prices unchanged

Nearby and new crop prices at the crush plants ended the week unchanged. USDA released its first production forecast for the 2018 U.S. sunflower crop. Production was pegged at 1.93 billion pounds, down 10 percent from the revised 2017 production of 2.16 billion pounds. Area planted, at 1.30 million acres, is down 11 percent from the June estimate and down 7 percent from last year. Sunflower growers expect to harvest 1.24 million acres, down 12 percent from June and down 7 percent from the 2017 acreage. The October yield forecast, at 1,560 pounds per acre, is 56 pounds lower than last year’s yield but will be the fourth highest on record, if realized. As of Oct. 1, lower yields are expected in 6 of the 8 major sunflower producing states compared with last year, with increases only expected in California and Kansas. Compared with last year, average yields forecast in North and South Dakota are down 45 pounds per acre and 100 pounds per acre, respectively. The forecasted production in South Dakota, the leading sunflower-producing state this year, is 895 million pounds, down 13 percent from 2017. In North Dakota, production is forecast at 674 million pounds down 3 percent from last year. This report will be key to prices going forward until thenext production estimate is released in January. Drier weather is forecast for the Northern Plains and should get combines rolling again.