Late rain, late start of South Africa sunflower seed plantings

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The optimal planting window opened at the beginning of this month in the sunflower seed growing areas, but it is still a fairly quiet period in the fields as the expected rainfall has not yet materialised in most areas. This is not much of an issue because the optimal planting window will open until early January 2019.

With that being said, we maintain our view that it would be ideal if farmers in areas with better soil moisture could begin the planting as soon as possible so that the pollination period could occur early next year when there is still a good chance for higher rainfall.

If the planting activity starts late, then the pollination process of the crop could coincide with the expected drier weather conditions between the end of January and March 2019. This could result in poor yields in some areas, depending on the soil moisture levels.

Aside from the aforementioned weather developments, there is a bit of despondency in that sunflower seed market as the recent data from the Crop Estimate Committee suggests that 2018/19 sunflower seed planting could decline by 4 percent from the previous season to 575 000 hectares, which is slightly below the long-term average area of 576 490 hectares are still tentative. Be that as it may, it is worth highlighting that these are ‘intentions’ not the actual plantings, we will get a much clearer view when the Committee releases its preliminary area estimate on 29 January 2019.

 On the global front, yesterday the EU’s sunflower seed price was down by 1.37 percent from the previous day, closing at US$360 per tonne. This was partly underpinned by negative spillover from lower palm oil prices. Moreover, the expectations of a fairly large global harvest of 51 million tonnes, up by 4 percent from the previous day, also added a bearish sentiment to the market. The key contributing countries to the expected large harvest are Ukraine, Russia, Argentina, China and Hungary. AGBIZ