Sunflower Leaders See Growth Potential Ahead

A recent move by the FDA to designate high oleic sunflower oil as a cholesterol-reducing product could fuel further growth in demand, according to industry leaders who attended a production meeting early this week in Lamar, Colorado.

“We’d like to get back to around 2 million acres of sunflowers annually, that’s what wed like to see,” said Karl Esping, the president of the National Sunflower Association whose term ends this weekend at the group’s annual meeting in North Dakota.

Esping farms a four-way rotation that includes corn, soybeans and winter wheat as well as sunflowers in central Kansas near the town of Lindsborg. He is the group’s first national president from the Sunflower State.

Kansas and Colorado both grow around 70,000 acres annually, a figure dwarfed by the production in the northern Great Plains, he said.

“It’s not unusual for farmers up there to plant 6,000 or 8,000 or even 10,000 acres of sunflowers at a time,” he said.

Esping believes the High Plains has room to expand production. At one time, Kansas was growing more sunflowers.

“Then soybeans started coming in, and everyone said how much easier they are to grow,” he noted. “Roundup made poor soybean growers good. But we’ve abused Roundup and now we are paying for it (with herbicide resistant weeds).”

He expects things to shift back the other way.

“There’s no question we could double production easily on the High Plains,” he said. “Right now the soybean thing is difficult, with seven-and-a-half dollar beans. At 18 cents a pound for sunflowers, that’s a pretty good price. If you’re growing 2,500-pound sunflowers, it’s a profitable deal.”

Kevin Swanson, marketing manager with Colorado Mills in Lamar, admitted there’s a perception among farmers that sunflowers are hard on the soil. To produce the rich, oil-laden seeds, the plants draw on a long taproot that pulls nutrients from deep in the ground, and those nutrients have to be replaced.

But Swanson contends area farmers often get higher yields from other crops following sunflowers because they loosen up the soil.

In central Kansas, where annual rainfall is around 25 inches, Esping plants his sunflowers as a double-crop after wheat.

“It works really well. The sunflowers can find nutrients that would otherwise be lost,” he said.

Swanson acknowledged that management has become an issue, too, as farms get bigger.

“Sunflowers take a little more management, but growers repeatedly tell us it’s their most profitable crop year after year,” he said.

Growers do need to scout and carefully manage several pests, including worms, weevils and moths, according to Ron Meyer, executive director of the Colorado Sunflower Administrative Committee and an area agronomist for Colorado State University.

But sunflowers have unique advantages, he pointed out.

Because they require less water, especially late in the season, some farmers with declining irrigation wells are planting half of their circles to corn and the other half to sunflowers. The sunflowers get full irrigation early in the season, during stand establishment, and the corn gets the water late in the season, when its needed for ear fill.

“We grow a lot of grassy crops, like corn, wheat and millet, so it’s good to rotate away from that to help control weeds,” Meyer added while speaking in Lamar. “Any grass is easy to take out of sunflowers.”

John Spring, an area weed specialist with Colorado State University, went through a list of 18 herbicides labeled for use in sunflowers. He said it’s important to start with a clean field, since sunflowers aren’t very competitive when they first emerge.

For optimal weed management, farmers should plan on three or four herbicide passes in a season, he added.

Meyer doesnt recommend attempting to double-crop sunflowers in eastern Colorado, due to soil moisture constraints, but noted equipment is available that allows farmers to plant right into standing wheat stubble, which helps alleviate crop residue concerns.

In a well-managed irrigated trial in the Prospect Valley area, Meyer came close to cracking 5,000 pounds per acre yield in 2015. Although successive crops have fallen short of that goal, he thinks it’s still possible to hit that mark in the future.

Growers in southeast Colorado have a great marketing outlet right at their doorstep. Esping credited Colorado Mills with being a national leader in marketing sunflower-derived products, partnering with the national association on several promotional campaigns and undertaking consumer outreach efforts of its own.

Since branching out from specialty feed manufacturing into oil refining back in 2010, Colorado Mills has taken a unique approach.

“We do not solvent extract,” said Rick Robbins, Colorado Mills’ general manager. “That makes for a very high quality feed. Our goat feed is now nationally known. We make over 4,000 ton a year, and it’s just an amazing product.”

The processing method sets the mill apart from ADM, Bunge and other large oilseed crushers that use chemical extraction.

“We are continually value adding to the end consumer, and we haven’t come to the end of what’s possible on that road yet,” Robbins said.

Chefs and restaurateurs like high oleic sunflower oil because it checks all of the trendy boxes: it’s nonGMO, zero trans-fats and heart healthy. It’s also a long-lived frying oil.

FDA’s recent announcement that edible oils with at least 70 percent oleic acid likely reduce the risk of coronary heart disease was also a boon for the industry.

“Sunflower and soybean oil used to be considered equivalent products, but now sunflower oil has separated itself out, and soybean oil is exiting the food industry,” Robbins said.

“What’s neat is that the high oleic oil makes a crispier chip, but when you put it on the skin it absorbs readily too,” he added. After supplying a cosmetics company for several years, Colorado Mills decided to enter that market by creating its own line of skin care products.

Sunflower oil is also being used as a natural fly and mite repellant and as an adjuvant for crop inputs.

“Crop oils are actually more expensive than cooking oils are,” Robbins said.

Colorado Mills is passing back the added value to producers through a loyalty program that can add up to an extra dollar per hundredweight premium to a grower’s contracted price. The contracts also contain an “act of God” clause that helps limit production risk.

Colorado Mills sources most of what it needs within 175 miles of Lamar, according to Swanson, but its reach extends beyond that. Esping, for example, often delivers his crop to Lamar on trucks that need a backhaul after delivering white wheat from Colorado to mills and food manufacturers in central Kansas.

Colorado Mills is ready to take more seed from more suppliers, Robbins said.

“We can crush up to 60 million pounds a year, and we can market every bit of that oil,” he said.


USDA Announces Deregulation of GE Low-Gossypol Cotton

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announces today the deregulation of Texas A&M’s cotton variety genetically engineered to have ultra-low levels of gossypol in its seed.

Gossypol is a naturally occurring compound in the pigment of cotton plants and protects them from pests and diseases.  This GE variety maintains protective levels of gossypol in the plants, but the compound is significantly reduced in the seed.  This benefits agriculture by lowering cottonseed oil refining costs, and potentially expands the use of cottonseed in the livestock and aquaculture feed industries, as well as for human food uses.

As part of the petition process, APHIS prepared a draft plant pest risk assessment (PPRA) and draft environmental assessment (EA), and made these documents available for a 30-day public review and comment period on August 1, 2018.

APHIS considered all of the public comments and conducted a thorough review of the potential environmental impacts in its final EA pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), reaching a finding of no significant impact (FONSI).

APHIS concluded in its final PPRA that this variety of GE cotton is unlikely to pose a plant pest risk to agricultural crops or other plants in the United States and is deregulating this variety of GE cotton.

The Federal Register notice is available for public viewing today and the deregulation will be effective upon publication of the official Federal Register notice on October 17, 2018.

Soybean Plant Planned for Missouri Bootheel Expected to Create 60 New Jobs

A state lawmaker who represents southeast Missouri says a soybean processing plant planned for the Caruthersville area will be a “real shot in the arm” to the impoverished region. Nine out of the ten poorest counties in the state are in southeast Missouri. State Rep. Don Rone, R-Portageville, says Sedes Soy Crush will build the soybean crushing/processing facility near Caruthersville, at the Pemiscot County Port. He says the facility will create about 60 new jobs.

Rone says the plant will process non-GMO specialty soybeans that focus on high proteins.

“It’s a new seed, it’s going to be processed, it’s non-GMO,” Rone says. “The oil and the meal will be non-GMO.”

Sedes Soy Crush is part of Palindromes Incorporated. The company website says Palindromes is focused on sustainable and socially-responsible access to the world’s most basic needs, such as food and water.

“It’s going to export the meal into Arkansas into the chicken industry, and hopefully abroad to the oil business to Europe, non-GMO,” says Rone.

Caruthersville is located on the Mississippi River. Its website says more than 30% of the town’s residents are living below the poverty level. Four of Missouri’s highest counties with free and reduced school lunch participation rates are located in the Bootheel. Despite high poverty rates, there has been positive economic news in southeast Missouri, in addition to the soybean plant.

Rone says the newly-reopened smelter in Marston has hired more than 400 employees, and says it is considering whether to open a third line and a rod and wire mill.

That would mean an additional 150 to 200 jobs.

And New Madrid city administrator Richard McGill says the city is still in the running for a steel mill, adding that good progress has been made in discussions with the steel mill owner.

China Tells Farmers To Grow More Soybeans Amid Trade Fight With U.S.

The order came in April. China’s government instructed farmers in the country’s northeastern breadbasket region to grow more soybeans, calling it “a political priority.”

But soybean fields lay empty in the village of Sandaogou, which means “Three Ditches,” in Liaoning province. It has been a dry spring.

“We’ve had a drought this year, so we planted soybeans late. The seedlings should be out by now. We need more rain,” says farmer Liu, who only gives her surname for fear of trouble with local authorities. Soy, after all, has become “political.”

China is the world’s largest consumer of soybeans, a key product for making things like oil and pig feed, and is America’s biggest buyer of the beans. But China has raised tariffs on a number of items including soybeans shipped from the U.S., in retaliation against new import duties on Chinese goods imposed by the Trump administration. On Monday, President Trump ordered his trade representative to draft a new list of $200 billion in Chinese goods for further tariffs, in a sharp escalation of the trade fight between the world’s top two economies.

In May, China’s agriculture ministry said the country will reduce its soybean imports for the first time in 15 years. To make up for part of the loss, the central government ordered local authorities to set aside 1.6 million acres of land to grow more soybeans. The country already cultivates nearly 21 million acres of the crop.

But here in Sandaogou, farmer Liu says while she grows soy on a collective farm she works on, she prefers to grow corn on her own plot of land.

“It’s too risky to grow soybeans, and the income is less stable than growing corn,” says Liu. “You don’t lose money growing corn. Soybean yields are too low.”

China produced 14.2 million metric tons of soybeans last year and imported almost 100 million more to meet domestic demand, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A third of those imports were from the U.S.

“None of us wants a trade war,” says Si Wei, an expert in the soy trade at China Agricultural University. “But if it happens, we need to think about what’s important.”

Si says Chinese tariffs on imported U.S. soybeans will have a big impact on both the American and Chinese markets.

“Judging from the land and water resources we have, I don’t think it’s realistic to grow all the soybeans we need ourselves and completely replace U.S. imports. We use U.S. soybeans mostly for oil. We’d have to replace it with peanut and rapeseed oil,” he says.

Si says China can import those oils from Australia, Canada and Central Europe instead, but it won’t be an easy transition for China.

Back on the soybean farm in Three Ditches village, farmer Liu says she hasn’t heard about the trade spat between the U.S. and China. She unplugged her television months ago so that her son would focus on his studies.

But if the government asks her to grow more soybeans, she says she will — if the money is right.

She adds: “If they give me a better subsidy and provide sales channels for me, then why not?”

American Soybean Association Says U.S. Soy Growers in Middle of Tariff Dispute With China

America’s soy growers are lined up even more precisely in the crosshairs of President Trump’s contentious tariff confrontation with China.

President Trump announced Monday that $200 billion in additional Chinese goods will be hit with a 10 percent tariff, deepening the likely free fall in prices that producers of soy and soy products are feeling directly in their wallets and which threaten the stability of their market long-term.

“Soybean prices are declining as a direct result of this trade feud,” said John Heisdorffer, Iowa soybean grower and president of American Soybean Association (ASA).

“Prices are down almost a dollar and a half per bushel since the end of May – and continue to plummet.

“That represents a loss of more than $6.0 billion on the 2018 soybean crop in less than a month.

“We have approached the Trump Administration repeatedly and implored them to hear our side of this story.”

ASA is disappointed and highly concerned that trade tensions continue to ratchet up rather than deescalate between the two countries and that its repeated requests to the Administration for a non-tariff solution that does not threaten the market stability and livelihoods of soy growers has not been put forward.

Last Friday, China responded in kind to the United States’ 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese products under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 with its own 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion of American goods, including soybeans.

In 2017, China imported 60 percent of total U.S. soybean exports, representing nearly 1 in 3 rows of harvested soybeans, with a value of $14 billion.

For more information, please contact Wendy Brannen at 202-684-6070 or

Waupun Selected as Site for First Wisconsin Soybean Crushing Facility

Waupun could be home to Wisconsin’s first soybean crushing facility.

If approved, construction would begin in 2019 and the facility would open in 2020, processing up to 100,000 bushels of soybeans a day, a release from the city and the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board said. Waupun and the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board are jointly soliciting the facility’s development.

For Waupun, the $150 million facility would bring 39 full-time jobs and $2.2 million annually in estimated payroll, the release said.

65.5-acre location in Waupun Industrial Park has been selected as the potential site for the project following a feasibility study conducted by Frazier, Barnes & Associates, LLC.

The feasibility study looked at “where soybeans are grown and the logistics requirements needed to make the project work,” said Waupun City Administrator and Director of Economic Development Kathy Schlieve.

Farmers in Dodge and Fond du Lac counties produced 6.8 million bushels of beans in 2017, the release said. Within a 100-mile radius of the city, this number jumps to 62.5 million bushels.

Along with being located in “the heart of prime agricultural land,” the site is close to the U.S. 151 corridor, allowing for ease of transport, and has access to rail, Schlieve said.

While Wisconsin has 18,000 soybean farmers and ranks as the 12th largest soybean producer in the country, the state does not have a soybean crushing facility. Instead, soybeans are shipped elsewhere and must be transported back to farms once processed into soy protein, soy oil or “soy meal” used for animal feed, the release said.

Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board Executive Director Robert Karls said having an in-state facility would make sense and bring a benefit to farmers. Costs for farmers would be reduced, jobs kept in the state, and infrastructure wear and tear reduced, he said.

Schlieve said Waupun has been looking to diversify its “economic base with a project that can be a catalyst for future growth.”

“We have a strong focus on expanding value-added agriculture processing, and it was clear, after reviewing the analysis, that we have a strong match for our community,” Schlieve said.

In addition to helping soybean farmers, Schlieve said it could also develop business opportunities that support the processing, including businesses in logistic service sectors and construction, machinery and equipment manufacture, “other value-added processors” and local producers in the supply chain.

Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board filed an air permit with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, which is needed for businesses that “emit pollutants to the atmosphere.” According to the DNR, it “protects public health and the environment by requiring that owners of operators comply with all applicable state and federal air regulations.”

Schlieve stated that “the proposed facility meets or exceeds all federal, state and local government requirements for emission.”

A draft of the permit is published by the DNR on its website. Those wishing to contribute commentary to the application can do so until July 11. A public hearing will be June 28.

The project will move forward with the issuance of a final permit from the DNR. Work to be done prior to construction includes engineering work, investment details, plan reviews and the creation of a tax increment financing district.

Assistant Plant Manager Position Available at Louis Dreyfus Company

Louis Dreyfus Company is a leading merchant and processor of agricultural goods, leveraging its global reach and extensive asset network to deliver for our customers around the world.

The Company is currently seeking an Assistant Plant Manager to support and assist management of plant operations and support in developing/administering production policies and programs, for a soybean crushing and biodiesel plant in Claypool, IN.

In addition, this position also ensures that standards in the following areas are met: emergency management, maintenance, security, facility up-keep, housekeeping and customer service.

Primary Role & Responsibilities:

  • Assist in establishing performance objectives for operation, budgets and schedules, and ensures all required safety and environmental regulations are complied with, while producing the quantity and quality of the product required.
  • Participates in long-range planning decisions, recommends capital improvements, cost reduction improvements.
  • Develop and monitor production schedules to ensure that completed products are shipped on time and in accordance with customer expectations.
  • Oversee the impact of operations on the environment by monitoring quality of plant effluents and emissions, coordinates efforts with Area Managers to ensure plant-wide compliance.
  • Ensure effective communication throughout the facility; including with regards to Company policies and assures understanding, and promotes teamwork and implements beneficial training methods.
  • Assist with employee development, personnel development plans, performance appraisal process
  • Assist with staffing and recruitment efforts


  • At least 3 years of experience managing an oilseed crushing or biodiesel facility outside of our organization OR at least 2 years of management experience at our Company oilseed plants
  • High school diploma/GED
  • Valid Driver’s License
  • Knowledge of applicable government regulations, personnel policies, etc.
  • Knowledge of applicable state and federal regulations regarding EEO, safety, health and environmental management, etc.
  • Knowledge necessary to accomplish the safe and timely start-up of a processing plant
  • Ability to effectively lead Production, Maintenance, Laboratory, Utility, Environmental, Health and Safety Managers and Team Leaders by exhibiting high ethical standards, engendering trust and empowering subordinates.
  • Ability to climb stairs and ladders as well as work at heights, manage confined space entry, withstand extended periods of walking and standing; and move manufacturing materials, products and equipment of 50 pounds or more, which requires bending and lifting

Interested Applicants: Please click on the link below to apply for the role:

China to Increase Imports of U.S. Oil and Grains

China will import record volumes of U.S. oil and is likely to ship more U.S. soy after Beijing signaled to state-run refiners and grains purchasers they should buy more to help ease tensions between the two top economies, trade sources said on Wednesday.

China pledged at the weekend to increase imports from its top trading partner to avert a trade war that could damage the global economy. Energy and commodities were high on Washington’s list of products for sale.

The United States is also seeking better access for imports of genetically modified crops into China under the deal.

China is the world’s top importer of both oil and soy, and already buys significant volumes of both from the United States. It is unclear how much more Chinese importers will buy from the United States than they would have otherwise, but any additional shipments would contribute to cutting the trade surplus, as demanded by Trump.

China’s state grain stockpiler Sinograin returned this week to the U.S. soybean market for the first time since early April, two sources said.

Soybeans are America’s top agricultural export to China, worth $12 billion last year, and the absence of Chinese buyers from the market had left U.S. farmers wondering if their biggest buyers was going to want their next harvest.

Sinograin enquired about prices for U.S. soybeans this week, traders said, which market participants interpreted as a sign that government curbs on buying American goods had been lifted

“Sinograin is in the market today asking U.S. suppliers to make offers for shipment of old-crop as well as new-crop beans for shipment August onwards,” said a source who works at a private soybean crushing company in China.

“It is a clear message to even private companies that it is OK now to import U.S. beans.”

Two other sources briefed on the matter said Chinese state grain trader Cofco would be permitted to buy U.S. soybeans again, ending restrictions imposed by Beijing as trade tensions rose. The sources declined to be named as they are not authorized to speak to the media.


U.S. Soybean Crush Expected to Exceed Last Year

Thanks to production issues in Argentina, U.S. soybean producers are experiencing higher soybean crush levels when compared to recent years. USDA projects domestic crush is up 3.6% from this past marketing year. Additionally, the second half of this year could be even greater at 3.7% higher than last year.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates March 2018 crush at 182.2 million bu. — 13% greater than March 2017. Improved crush margin is incentivizing greater crush in the U.S. Since Argentina is facing poor soybean production — down 654 million bu. from last year according to Todd Hubbs at the University of Illinois — there could be increased need for domestic soybean crush.

Soybean oil prices, on the other hand, are weaker as stocks grew 0.8% compared to March of last year. Oil prices decreased from 31.6 cents per pound in early February to 29.5 cents per pound over last month in Decatur, Ill., Hubbs says. Crush strength is heavily dependent on soybean meal markets—which are growing rapidly because of Argentina’s production problems.

“Soybean meal use needs to continue to build on recent progress to meet or exceed the current crust projection,” Hubbs adds.

April’s WASDE report increased domestic soybean meal consumption by 250,000 tons and exports by 100,000 tons. That’s a 4.5% increase over last year. Domestic increases are largely due to livestock production expansion over this past year. USDA projects exports at 7.8% greater than last year and the last half of the year could be 14% larger than the second half of this past marketing year.

“While soybean exports continue to disappoint, soybean crush levels maintain a pace to set record levels of use associated with crush this marketing year,” Hubbs says. “Domestic use of soybean meal appears set to maintain support for strong crush margins.”

Mato Grosso March Soybean Crush Hits All-Time High

Soybean crushing in Brazil’s largest producing soybean state hit an all-time high of 913,500 mt in March on high availability of the bean as the harvest work was completed mid-April, IMEA said in a note published late Monday.

The March crush was up 10.77% on the month and up 10.68% compared to March 2017.

IMEA expects the strong pace to continue for the rest of the season, with the total crush for 2017/18 anticipated at 9.25 million mt, just under last year’s all-time high of 9.37 million mt.

Total production for the state is estimated at 32.17 million mt, an all-time high and up 2.3% from last year’s record.

However, state end-stocks will halve during the season to just 220,000 mt as exports and domestic demand are up 2.8%, driven by healthy bean and meal prices and a rise in international demand.

The 2017/18 soybean harvest in Mato Grosso was one of the first to be completed in Brazil and progress was completed by April 5, Brazil-based consultants Agrural said at the end of last week, with the entire country currently at 85%.

High international meal prices also propelled the US March crush to an all-time high of 171.858 million bushels (4.7 million mt) of soybeans, up 11.8% on the month, data released by National Oilseed Processors Association (NOPA) showed Monday.