Written by Zac Kreider
Farmers in the United States are a couple of months away from planting sunflowers and with the 120-day growing cycle, we will be rewarded with a beautiful crop in the fall. North Dakota is the leader in sunflower production in the United States and we all look to them to forecast the upcoming year. This time of year farmers are dialing in their crop rotations, performing maintenance on their equipment, attending grower meetings, pricing fertilizer, securing contracts, hoping for one more snowstorm, praying for spring rain, and enjoying their time with family and friends.
Ukraine and North Dakota align latitudinally allowing both of these locations to reap the benefits of the sunflower crop that has spoiled the world with its health benefits, profitability, deliciousness, and beauty. Ukraine should be enjoying the end of winter and welcoming spring but the current conflict is forcing a much darker scenario. Millions of people are fleeing the country, diesel fuel is scarce and at all time high in price, roads are destroyed, the ports are closed and damaged, supply chains shut down. Acres of fertile farmland will be empty, tractors will not plow, normalcy ripped away.
Where does Ukraine and Russia play into the sunflower market? Here are the numbers. Ukraine is #1 in world production and Russia is #2. The 27 countries making up the European Union #3 and the United States #9. Ukraine and Russia combined are 66 times the production of the United States. The political conflict that is occurring between these two sunflower powerhouses is going to disrupt the world supply chain of sunflower oil and many other items. Russia and Ukraine together account for a third of the world’s wheat exports, a fifth of its corn trade, and almost 80% of sunflower oil production, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Is there going to be a sunflower crop planted this year in Ukraine? When are the ports going to open back up? There are many questions that no one has the answer to right now. History has taught us that normalcy in conflict zones doesn’t return to civilization for two to three years after war has ended. There is going to be a shortage of sunflower oil on the world market. This shortage is going to affect availability and pricing in the United States. We are already seeing these problems and they will continue into the fall crop that supplies 2023.
The world has changed in a very short amount of time. Peace, prosperity, and independence have been turned upside down. I encourage you to build relationships, personally and professionally, and have conversations about what is going on in the world. Support your communities and love your neighbor as yourself.
Keep on keeping on -Zac