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Sunflower Harvest Starts; USDA Report Key to Prices
USAgNet - 10/12/2017

Harvest is underway in most sunflower reporting states, including Minnesota where 6 percent of the crop is reported harvested. Also in Minnesota, 84 percent of the sunflower crop is reported in good to excellent condition. Texas reports 59 percent of its crop is harvested.

Meanwhile, North Dakota is reporting 81 percent of the crop mature with 37 percent rated good to excellent, and South Dakota has 62 percent of its crop mature and 28 percent of it rated good to excellent. Kansas reports 55 percent of its crop is mature and 62 percent of it is good to excellent.

On Oct. 12, USDA will issue its first production estimate of the 2017 sunflower crop. This report will be key to prices going forward.

The biggest unknown for this year has been the drought impact on production in the Dakotas, the largest sunflower producers, reports the National Sunflower Association. A significant drop off in yield will impact the market and buyers are anxious to see where USDA pegs 2017 sunflower production prospects before making longer term purchases. USDA released its ending stocks report last month with old crop sunflower stocks in all positions totaling 649 million pounds, up 57 percent from a year ago. This will give the market some cushion as it heads into the 2017-18 marketing year. But then again initial estimates peg the US sunflower crop at around 800,000 metric tons, which compares to last year's total of 1.2 million metric tons. If realized, this level of production will create very tight ending stocks at the end of the 2017/18 marketing year despite the larger carryover seed stocks reported by USDA.

Last week, sunflower harvest started on acres that were desiccated and many more acres are maturing quickly. Freezing temperatures were observed in some sunflower production areas with more anticipated next week in the Northern Plains as a cold front moves through the region early next week. This should speed up dry down and allow harvest to proceed.

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