Open vs Contract Markets

After planning sunflowers into the rotation, and before purchasing seed, an understanding of the different sunflower markets is important. Whether it’s oil, confection or conoil, markets play a central role in a producer’s hybrid choices.

Producers must choose the sunflower hybrid for the market they plan to enter and for the specific region where it will be planted. For Iglehart, who grows around 3,000 sunflower acres for all markets, hybrid choice depends on demand. Strong contracts or prices determine the hybrids he plants.

“I try to sell to the markets that have the higher demand, whether it’s bird food, dehull or high oleics – whatever markets have the better bids,” he says.

Click on the image to enlarge and view Nuseed’s full lineup of sunflowers, a hybrid for every field and every market.

While planting most sunflower acres under contract, Iglehart will also sell on the open market. The crop’s versatility allows him to sell to several different markets. “Most of the time the contracts are attractive, so you take advantage of them, and you can lock in a profit. I’ll also roll the dice and hopefully get lucky on the open market.”

Iglehart plants Nuseed’s Hornet, Jaguar DMR, and N5LM307 hybrids. Hornet is a high oleic hybrid while Jaguar DMR is a confection hybrid. Introduced for the 2017 growing season, the N5LM307 hybrid is the first black conoil designed for the dehull market. All three hybrids carry the Clearfield trait and are resistant to multiple races of downy mildew.

Iglehart likes to diversify the hybrids he plants in one season. “If I grew all Hornets and the market is low on high oleic, then I’m out. If I diversify my sunflower acres, I can hit all the markets,” he says.

Legend Seeds Dealers, the official Nuseed sunflower distributors in the United States, and the authorized retailers in Canada, know he sunflower hybrids best suited for their regions and the markets they can be used for, and will aid producers with their hybrid choices, says Pokrzywinski. However, before purchasing seed, growers must confirm with buyers or processors that their hybrid choices are appropriate.

“The first step is to talk to your seed dealer and decide what market you want to go into, and what market is a good fit,” she says. “They know the right Nuseed hybrids and their planting deadlines.”

Listen to Mick Kjar of Farm Talk and Alison Pokrzywinski of Nuseed discuss the importance of considering open vs contract markets for sunflowers.