Despite the drought in the Dakotas last year, sunflower yields in the United States were the third highest on record. The USDA report on 2017 sunflower crop production, released today, shows the United States average yield per acre of 1,613 pounds, down 118 pounds from 2016. But in North Dakota, where many growers saw severe drought, the average yield declined only 80 pounds from 2016, to 1,636 pounds per acre. South Dakota, the leading sunflower-producing state during 2017, produced 1.04 billion pounds, a decrease of 2 percent from 2016. Compared with 2016, planted area in South Dakota increased 11 percent but yield decreased 208 pounds to 1,750 pounds per acre. United States production of non-oil sunflower varieties was estimated at 312 million pounds, an increase of 10 percent from 2016. Area harvested, at 172,700 acres, was up 6 percent from 2016. The average yield increased by 75 pounds from 2016 to 1,804 pounds per acre. That’s the second highest yield on record for non-oil varieties. Production of oil-type sunflower varieties, at 1.86 billion pounds, decreased 22 percent from 2016. Compared with the previous year, harvested acres were down 14 percent and the average yield decreased by 146 pounds to 1,585 pounds per acre.
2018 new crop prices are starting to roll out as well. The Cargill crush plant is offering NuSun cash at $18.00 per cwt. and Act of God (AOG) contracts at $17.00. High Oleic contracts are being offered as well with cash at $18.25 and AOG at $17.25. ADM Enderlin is offering $18.15 cash contracts for NuSun and High Oleic. Something else to consider is the oil premiums that crush plants pay on sunflower. Sunflower is the only oilseed that pays premiums for oil content above 40%. Considering oil premiums that are offered at the crush plants on oil content above 40% at a rate of 2% price premium for each 1% of oil above 40%; this pushes a contract with 45% oil content gross return 10% higher per cwt. An $18 contract would be $19.80 and $18.25 goes over $20.00.