After experiencing an uptick in sunflower seed production in the 2016/17 season, the world is set to harvest a relatively smaller crop in the 2017/18 production season. The most recent estimates from SUNSEEDMAN, a Turkish based consulting group, suggests that 2017/18 global sunflower seed production could decline to 49 million tons, down by 2% year-on-year (y/y).

This comes on the back of a decrease in area planted in the Black Sea region (Russia and Ukraine), as well as expectations of relatively lower yields in other key producing countries such as Hungary, USA, Kazakhstan and Spain, amongst others.

Although expected to experience a decline in production this season, the Black Sea region remains the heart of global sunflower seed production, particularly Ukraine and Russia. Ukraine alone accounts for 29% share of global sunflower seed crop. Its 2017/18 production is set to fall by 7% from the previous season to 49 million tons, partially driven by a 3% y/y decline in area plantings to 6.2 million hectares. Russia is set to be the second largest global sunflowerseed producer, with the 2017/18 crop estimated at 11 million tons, also down by 7% from the previous season. This is on the back of expected lower yields, following unfavourable weather conditions earlier in the season.

Contrary to the Black Sea region, there is some level of optimism in Argentina. This follows an uptick in area plantings due to price competitiveness. Moreover, the deregulation of the agricultural market, which saw the Argentinian sunflower seed industry relaxing export taxes, also motivated farmers to gear up production with an aim to serve export markets. The country’s 2017/18 sunflower seed production is estimated at 3.8 million tons, up by 12% y/y. The planting process is currently underway and weather conditions are fairly favourable in the short to medium term.

China is set to be the fourth largest sunflower seed producer in the 2017/18 production season, with an overall crop estimated at 3.0 million tons, up by 7% from the previous season. This follows a marginal uptick in area planted, as well as better yields.

Eastern Europe is also set to see widespread increases in 2017/18 sunflower seed production with Romania and Bulgaria’s crop estimated at 2.2 million tons (up by 15% y/y) and 2.1 million tons (up by 11% y/y) respectively.

Turkey, France, Spain, Moldova, Kazakhstan and Serbia are also within the top 15 global sunflower seed producers, with the 2017/18 crop estimated at 1.6 million tons, 1.3 million tons, 625 000 tons, 825 000 tons, 750 000 tons and 575 000 tons respectively.

In Africa, South Africa is the only country that features within the top 15 global sunflower seed producers, ranked at number 12 and making up a 2% share of global output at 49 million tons.  In the 2016/17 production season, South Africa’s sunflower seed production reached 874 595 tons, up by 16% y/y due to higher yields, thanks to good summer rainfall. In the 2017/18 season, SUNSEEDMAN estimates that South Africa’s sunflower seed production could increase by 3% y/y to 900 000 tonnes, boosted by anticipations of an uptick in area plantings and higher yields.

While it is still early days for one to be sure about the next season, the weather forecasters are predicting high chances of above normal rainfall between November 2017 and January 2018, all increasing chances of another good crop in the 2017/18 production season for South Africa. More will unfold over the coming months, but there’s surely some level of optimism in the domestic front.

ENQUIRIES:
Wandile Sihlobo (wandile@agbiz.co.za)