Slow progress in South Africa sunflower seed planting

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We do not expect the sunflower seed planting process to show good progress this week as soil moisture will not have improved from last week’s levels.

Also, the weather outlook for the next eight days shows drier weather conditions over most sunflower seed producing provinces, specifically North West and the western Free State. These two provinces account for 85 percent of the 575 000 hectares earmarked for sunflower seed planting in 2018/19 production season.

- However, conditions could change in the week of 27 November 2018, which promises widespread rainfall of between 20 and 60 millimetres over most parts of the country. But the slow progress in sunflower seed planting thus far is not a major concern as the optimal planting window typically runs between November and early January each year. So, there is still time.

- Having said 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. The South African Weather Service forecasts drier weather conditions between the end of January and March 2019, and this could coincide with pollination and negatively affect the crop.

- With South Africa being a net importer of sunflower seed by products, it is important to keep a close eye on the global sunflower seed developments. To that end, the USDA forecasts 2018/19 global sunflower seed production at 50 million tonnes, up by 6 percent from the previous season. The key contributing countries to the expected large harvest are Ukraine, Russia, Argentina, China and Hungary. In the same season, the 2018/19 global sunflower seed ending stock could be up by 15 percent from the previous season to 4 million tonnes, partly boosted by the expected large harvest.

- Aside from the aforementioned weather developments, the dam levels have improved significantly in the Western Cape province, thanks to the recent rainfall