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Sunflower for bottom line return and crop rotation in 2021

sunflower crop rotation

Sunflower for bottom line return and crop rotation in 2021

  • Sunflower was a very profitable crop choice in 2020 and that looks to continue into 2021.
    • According to the North Dakota 2021 Projected Crop Budgets – South Central Region – oil (with premium for 42.5% oil) and confection sunflower return more net revenue over direct expenses than Canola, Durum or Hard Red Spring wheat. When you consider the Act of God contracts available for both sunflower segments but the added risk associated with quality parameters for confection flowers – oil seed sunflower looks like a great choice.
    • NDSU extension Ag Economists publish estimated revenues and costs for crops typically grown in North Dakota. They use average crop prices, yields, and estimated direct expenses for each crop including seed, fertilizer, pest management, fuel, repairs, drying, etc..  (see link ) https://www.newsdakota.com/2021/01/28/ndsu-projected-crop-budgets-for-2021/
    • The table below summarizes the data from NDSU and shows the value of oil sunflower versus Canola and spring small grains. Input values were taken directly from the NDSU publication except for oil content.  The average oil content reported for the 5 years ending 2019 was 42.5%.  Oil premiums, an often-overlooked advantage for oil Sunflower growers, pay a 2% premium for every 1% oil over 40% adding $1/cwt to the base price in the NDSU calculations.


Oil SF Canola Durum HRSW Confection Flower
Yield* 1686 1794 49 47 1550
Price** $0.21 $0.19 $6.37 $5.67 $0.27
Revenue/ac  $359  $343  $312  $266  $412
Direct Costs/ac  $174  $193  $166  $159  $215
Net Return/ac  $185  $150  $146  $108  $197
* Sunflower and Canola as lbs/ac; all others as bu/ac
** Oil Sunflower – $0.198/lb AOG 2021 contract plus $.0099/lb premium at 42.5% oil


  • Add Sunflower to your crop rotation and reap the long term benefits
    • Sunflowers are very efficient at utilizing carryover nutrients left from previous crops fertility programs – especially nitrogen.
    • Sunflower’s excellent drought tolerance help growers manage crop failure risks in dry years.
    • Weed control in sunflower can use a different mode of action herbicide. Combining the different chemistry with sunflower’s long planting window gives growers an opportunity to break up weed cycles, especially for winter annual weeds in small grain programs.
    • As with weed management adding Sunflower in rotation can reduce disease pressure built up within canola, soybean, and small grain intensive programs.