American Sunflower Production to Fall by More than One-Third

American sunflower production will tumble by more than one-third this year amid drought in the northern Plains.

Tuesday’s USDA crop production report pegged the national sunflower crop at 862,240 tonnes, down 36% from the revised 2020 crop of 1.35 million and potentially the smallest US crop since 1989.

Although yields were hurt by drought, some of the year-over-year decline in production is also due to a smaller planted and harvested area. At 1.28 million acres, estimated US sunflower planted area is down 7% from the government’s June estimate and is 27% below a year earlier. Meanwhile, growers expect to harvest 1.22 million acres, a fall of 27% from last year.

The October yield forecast, at 1,554 lbs/acre, is 236 lbs lower than last year and figures to be the lowest for the nation since 2014, if realized. As of Oct. 1, higher yields are expected in five of the eight main production states compared with last year, with decreases only expected in Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Forecasted production in South Dakota, the leading sunflower-producing state this year, is expected down 32% from 2020. Compared with last year, the average yield forecast in South Dakota is down 328 lbs/acre from 2020 at 1,582 lbs. In North Dakota, the average yield is forecast at 1,600 lbs, down 272 lbs from last year.

In contrast, the average yield in California, at 1,489 lbs/acre, will be a record high, if realized.

Statistics Canada has not yet released production and yield estimates for the 2021 Canadian sunflower crop.

Source: DePutter Publishing Ltd.

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