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Sun Seed Reps Sound Off

Tuesday, April 2, 2002
filed under: Hybrid Selection/Planting

Sun Seed Reps Sound Off

Price, Pests Play into 2002 Planting Decisions

If an informal pre-plant poll of sunflower seed dealers and company representatives in the Northern and High Plains by The Sunflower is any indication, oil sunflower acreage will be about the same as last year, up in some areas and down in others. Planting decisions will be influenced in part by weather, the farm program, crop rotations, and localized pest and disease pressure.

Our unscientific e-mail poll early this spring indicated a lower interest in growing confection sunflower. One seed industry representative explained that some confection growers are finding it difficult to find a favorable price, particularly on the open market, and that even the contract price is not favorable for some, compared to oil prices and when cost of production and stepped-up management levels are considered.

Seed dealers and representatives also indicate that a lower price premium of late has dampened enthusiasm for growing NuSun in some areas. There is more interest in dehulling hybrids for market versatility, and a lot of anxiousness in farm country for imazamox or “IMI” resistant sunflower hybrids.

Of course, planting intentions could change quickly based on price and weather. Nevertheless, here’s an early-bird look at what some in the sunflower seed industry had to say about the upcoming sunflower production season:

It’s taking longer for the growers to decide this year what they’re going to plant. I would say 30% haven't decided what they’re doing yet. – Doug Roundy, Mycogen Seeds, Carrington, N.D.

(There could be) a small percentage growth in acreage, after a huge increase last season. Still too dry to determine a true trend. Localized there is a lower demand (for NuSun) due to still negative relative performance. There is a need for tools to manage risk of insect damage (stem weevil, stem borer and head moth) – Edward Wood, Garst Seed, Concordia, Kans.

Interest is high for any sunflower crop that growers can contract production. Interest is slightly lower for NuSun, especially since the premium fell to around 35 cents. Contract prices on confection are not that attractive, and most growers will not grow high oleics unless there is a very attractive contract price. Dehull conventional oil hybrids are in demand, especially since the NuSun premium fell. Growers are also asking questions on when the IMI-resistant sunflower hybrids are coming to market. Interest in sunflower is very high in the Minot and Bottineau N.D. areas; conversely the traditional sunflower growing areas in North Dakota such as Barnes and Stutsman Counties are being cannibalized by soybeans. South central and southwestern counties in N.D. will maintain acreage. – Troy Sayler, Dekalb/Monsanto, Bismarck, N.D.

We see three primary activities at the farmer/dealer level currently: 1.) Sunflower growers are looking at the open dry winter and realize sunflowers are one of the most drought tolerant crops. 2.) The open winter also brings questions whether the winter wheat broke domancy in February. If so stands could be poor this spring allowing sunflowers to be planted as an alternative. 3.) Growers are looking for revenue at harvest. We find more interest in capitalizing on the hulling market with NK 278. The growing hulling market of oil sunflower provides a premium somewhat similar to the NuSun. – Gary Wietgrefe Syngenta-NK, Sioux Falls, S.D.

There is less interest in sunflower here overall as a result of blackbird pressure, which is extreme at times. – Steve Sawinsky, north central S.D.

Sunflower planting interest is higher this year than last. I believe it is due to a good market price for sunflower, and potential weather patterns for the next growing year. NuSun interest is higher as a direct result of ADM Northern Sun's early aggressive NuSun bid. Confection interest is lower because the confection market is low relative to the oil market, which includes hulling and bird seed in addition to the crush. – Keith Peltier, Proseed, Harvey, N.D.

Many decisions will be made late this year depending on farm program, current commodity prices and moisture conditions going into planting season. – Bruce Due, Mycogen/Dow, Breckenridge, Minn.

Growers are looking for hybrids that stand well and earlier maturity. – Ed Lommel, Seeds 2000, Breckenridge, Minn.

Interest in sunflower planting has been slightly higher so far and the longer it stays dry in the country, the higher the interest in sunflower. — Tom Frappier, Pioneer, Fargo, N.D.

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