The next two weeks could bring positive change in sunflower seed growing areas South Africa

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There is still limited activity in the sunflower fields due to lower soil moisture on the back of drier weather conditions in the past couple of weeks.

But the next two weeks could bring positive change as weather charts currently show prospects of roughly 20 to 90 millimetres of rainfall over the sunflower seed growing areas within the next two weeks. Some areas have already started receiving showers, and this could intensify in the next couple of days.

While the forecast rainfall is a positive development for the 2018/19 production season, it also means that sunflower seed planting could experience a further two weeks’ delay due to wet conditions, but planting should begin as soon as the weather clears.

This is not a main concern in the market as there is still sufficient time for sunflower seed planting. South Africa’s sunflowers seed optimal planting window will only close at the beginning of January 2019 in the main sunflower seed producing provinces such as the Free State and North West. To reiterate a point made yesterday, our recommendations for early plantings in areas that had good soil moisture was due to expectations of drier weather conditions between the ends of January to March 2019. This period could coincide with pollination, which requires moisture. Therefore, in an event of drier weather conditions, yields could be negatively affected.

Also worth noting is that during the drier production seasons of 2014/15 and 2015/16, South Africa’s sunflower seed yields averaged 1.10 tonnes per hectare. If we assume a yield of this size on intended area plantings of 575 000 hectares, South Africa’s 2018/19 sunflower seed production could amount to 632 500 tonnes.

But, this is possibly a worst case scenario, as we don’t believe that the weather conditions could be as dry as 2015-16 period. There are expectations of a weak El Niño. Therefore, if we assume that the 2018/19 sunflower seed yields could amount to 1.28 tonnes per hectare, a five-year average yield, on an area plantings of 575 000 hectares, then production could amount to 736 000 tonnes, down by 14 percent from the previous season.