Opinion

The 2023 EU Sunflower Crop Is Expected 18% Higher YoY at 10.89 Million Mt

Sunflower Seed
France
Netherlands
image
The 2023 EU sunflower crop is expected at 10.89 million Mt, up 18% YoY. During winter, milder conditions prevailed in most parts of Europe, albeit those conditions were interspersed with below-average precipitation in central France and wetter than usual conditions in the Northern areas of Germany. In the UK, rainfall levels were normal during the winter, whereas distinctly warmer and wetter-than-usual weather patterns persisted until 20 January in Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.

While wet conditions created perfect soil moisture levels for most sunflower fields, drier spells at the start of spring created optimal conditions for crop field operations and planting. That said, soil moisture levels in the western areas of Europe at the end of February were curiously low causing the European Commission’s GDO analytical report for March 2023 to label the Soil Moisture Index (SMI) Anomaly as “remarkably negative”.

The 2023 EU sunflower crop is expected at 10.89 million Mt, up 18% YoY. During winter, milder conditions prevailed in most parts of Europe, albeit those conditions were interspersed with below-average precipitation in central France and wetter than usual conditions in the Northern areas of Germany. In the UK, rainfall levels were normal during the winter, whereas distinctly warmer and wetter-than-usual weather patterns persisted until 20 January in Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.

While wet conditions created perfect soil moisture levels for most sunflower fields, drier spells at the start of spring created optimal conditions for crop field operations and planting. That said, soil moisture levels in the western areas of Europe at the end of February were curiously low causing the European Commission’s GDO analytical report for March 2023 to label the Soil Moisture Index (SMI) Anomaly as “remarkably negative”.

The good dispersal of rainfall since the start of March has thus come in good time and augured well for seeded crops, easing the hitherto precipitation deficits. The 2023 EU Sunflower crop has been planted with reports suggesting the planting is about 90% complete.

Sowing of the 2023 EU sunflower is thus expected to be 10% above the 5-year average, reaching 48 million mt ha, supported by a shift from maize to sunflower in drought-affected areas. The EU sunflower crop outlook is therefore seen to be confident with a crop forecast of 10.89 million mt according to the EU Commission, 18% above production in the previous year. The European Association of Cereals, Rice, Feedstuffs, Oilseeds, Olive Oil, Oils, and Fats and Agrosupply Trade (COCERAL) in its second forecast for the 2023 crop sees EU27 production at 11.2 million mt, slightly above the EU commission forecast. The Tridge estimate puts the output at 11 million mt based on observed weather anomalies and its impact on the crop so far.

The increase in EU sunflower crop output is buoyed by an upward production forecast in Bulgaria, up 4% to 2.12 million mt, with Romanian production rising by 40% to 1.83 million mt and Hungary up 60% to 1.84 million mt. So far, in these 3 top sunflower-producing countries, reports suggest crops are in good condition, but some amounts of rainfall may be needed progressing into spring to help crops through their reproductive stage. The expectation is that weather conditions across Europe throughout the crop life cycle will be beneficial into the third quarter of the year.

World consumption of sunflower is also forecasted up 4% YoY to 55.2 million mt. The higher crop in the EU would thus relieve any tightness that is set to arise on the back of higher demand. Demand for crush and processing based on the estimated consumption will push up well into next season. Depending on crush margins and the spread between sunflower oil and rapeseed oil, demand for rapeseed oil may also shift to sunflower oil, which will weigh on sunflower availabilities and push stocks down.

What would be interesting to know is the decisions that sunflower producers will make in setting contracts for the physical delivery of their crops ex-harvest to avoid the potential harvest pressure on prices.

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