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  • Unconventional Ag

Australian Demand for Sunflower Seeds Outstrips Supply

As demand outpaces supply, the Australian Oilseed Foundation (AOF) is encouraging farmers to lift production of sunflowers for both oil and seed production.

Australia uses approximately 60,000 tons of sunflower oil per year, but produces only 20,000 tons, leaving the country to rely on imports from South America for the balance. Cargill is currently paying approximately $700 per ton for sunflower seeds to be processed into oil at its plant in Narrabri, New South Wales, and small businesses which source whole sunflower seeds for bird or horse feed are paying upwards of $1,000 per ton.

While the AOF has programs in place to support sunflower production and reduce reliance on imports, it is understood that because of Australia’s climate, there are limitations on where sunflowers will thrive. Usually sunflowers are not grown in the country’s southern grain regions because they require adequate rainfall. However, new technology, developments in equipment, better soil management, and learning to store moisture under dry mulch and stubble have given southern farmers the ability to grow the crop which will prove to be more profitable than canola.

The spread of propagation of sunflowers to the south will also benefit the soil as they have a significant tap root system that breaks up the soil; they are proficient nutrient recyclers, and work very well in rotation with wheat.

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