This week USDA released its first production estimate of the 2019 sunflower crop. The caveat to the USDA report is that it was based on growing conditions before a widespread powerful winter storm hit the Dakotas and Minnesota this week and assumed normal weather for the remainder of the growing season. By the beginning of October, harvest was underway in Colorado, Kansas and Texas but had not yet begun in the Dakotas. So, take these figures with a grain of salt. USDA pegged 2019 sunflower production at 2.25 billion pounds, up 7 percent from the revised 2018 production of 2.11 billion pounds. USDA shaved off 9 million pounds from 2018 oil sunflower production leaving non-oil production unchanged. Area planted, at 1.36 million acres, is down 2 percent from the June estimate but up 4 percent from last year. US sunflower growers are expected to harvest 1.31 million acres, down 3 percent from June but up 4 percent from last year. The overall average yield for all sunflower types is forecast, at 1,724 pounds per acre. This is 7 pounds lower than last year’s yield but will be the third highest on record, if realized. The forecasted production in North Dakota would make it the leading sunflower producing state this year, at 956 million pounds, up 29 percent from 2018. In South Dakota, production is forecast at 913 million pounds down 6 percent from last year.