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Published September 19, 2009, 12:00 AM

A sunny outlook

State officials say the sunflower crop is looking good, citing warmer temperatures as of late has helped give the crop a boost.

By: Beth Wischmeyer, The Dickinson Press

State officials say the sunflower crop is looking good, citing warmer temperatures as of late has helped give the crop a boost.

The increased moisture this summer has benefited the sunflower crop, said John Sandbakken, marketing director for the National Sunflower Association in Bismarck.

“The crop, especially in the central and western part of the state looks just phenomenal,” Sandbakken said. “It’s going to be a really nice crop.”

The only real concern, Sandbakken said, is the lack of heat this summer.

“We are behind a little bit on maturity, but overall, given where we’re at, it’s in tremendous shape,” Sandbakken said. “There should be some really good yields out there.

“Producers should have a very nice crop if we can hold off to freeze.”

Sandbakken said a hard freeze before the crop could fully mature would affect the quality and test weight.

There are about 10,000 sunflower producers in the state, he added.

Ryan Kadrmas, a sunflower producer from the Dickinson area said he’s happy with his crop.

“It’s looking really good, probably the best we’ve seen since 2005,” Kadrmas said.

Kadrmas said he isn’t sure if the harvest will be late this year, stating it’ll all depend on when the killing freeze is.

“It isn’t quite as far behind as the corn,” he said.

Late season diseases and blackbirds are being reported in some areas. Sunflowers in the high plains are being harvested, according to NSA information.

“This week of the hot weather that we’re having is just perfect, we couldn’t ask for anything further to push the crop forward,” Sandbakken said. “We’d like to see it continuing, obviously, to even longer than what’s being forecasted. You have to deal with what nature gives you.”

The NSA reports that the nearby cash market for sunflower has been in a downward spiral following the general trend in commodities. In addition, there has been aggressive selling of old crop sunflower as farmers clean out on-farm storage. Crushers and others have sufficient stocks on hand to take them into late fall.

Emergence of the sunflowers wasn’t affected much by late snows, but growth remained slow through the cooler temperatures earlier in the season.

Sandbakken estimates harvest to begin in October, which lags behind normal by one or two weeks.

“It’s going to vary,” Sandbakken said. “There are some areas of the state that got in a crop a little bit later; some areas were more on a normal time frame.

“I would think in the southeastern part of the state they are going to start a lot sooner than they are around here.”

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