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Published November 23, 2009, 12:00 AM

Sunflower yields 'tremendous'

This summer’s vibrant yellow sunflower fields have proven plentiful, thanks to increased precipitation. “The season was definitely a gift, compared again to last year,” said Jim Hauck, station manager at Southwest Grain in Dickinson.

By: Lisa Call, The Dickinson Press

This summer’s vibrant yellow sunflower fields have proven plentiful, thanks to increased precipitation.

“The season was definitely a gift, compared again to last year,” said Jim Hauck, station manager at Southwest Grain in Dickinson.

Several in the sunflower business said this year’s yields far surpassed last year’s harvest.

“It’s probably the best crop we’ve had, that I can remember,” said Paul Rohde of Halliday, a tenured sunflower producer.

Sunflower producer Ed Kessel of Dickinson, said his crops were hailed out last year so this year’s yield has been much better.

John Sandbakken, marketing director for the National Sunflower Association based in Mandan, has heard similar reports.

“In your area especially, the yields have been just tremendous, from what I’ve heard, significantly above average,” Sandbakken said. “They should have a really good crop to market this year.”

However, yields are not fetching prices similar to last year’s.

“Because there was yield, that put a little pressure on the price right now,” Hauck said, adding 100 pounds of sunflower is presently fetching $11.65 whereas last year at this time, sunflowers were fetching about $18 to $20 per 100 pounds.

“They’ve been down for a while … all summer,” Kessel said, adding he thinks prices are about 50 percent lower than last year.

While elevator prices can differ, crushing plants paid about $15 per 100 pounds last year and as of Monday, were paying about $13, Sandbakken said.

Final 2009 prices will not be available until January, Sandbakken said.

Roger Ashley, Cropping Systems Extension Specialist at the Dickinson Research Extension Center, said this year’s timely and above normal rainfall contributed to the high yields.

From Nov. 1, 2008, through Oct. 30, the area received four more inches of rain than last year, equaling about 25 percent higher precipitation levels, Ashley said.

Sandbakken said in speaking with producers, sunflower harvest is moving very smoothly.

Progress is similar to last year, he said.

Crop progress reports show 86 percent of the state’s sunflowers and 88 percent of the southwest region’s have been harvested, Sandbakken said.

“The crop is really coming off really nice right now,” he said. “It’s a little bit behind the five year average. Normally, we’d have about 90 to 95 percent off right now. Things should wrap up here we think the next week.”

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