Sunflower, though has gained importance relatively late compared to other oilseeds, it is now the third largest producing oilseed in the world after soyabean and rapeseed & mustard. Sunflower is scientifically known as Helianthus annuus, derived from the name of Greek sun God Helios. Sunflower was originally grown as an ornamental plant for its attractive flowers and photosensitive nature.

Sunflower is native of North America but commercialization of the plant took place in Russia. It was only recently that the sunflower plant returned to North America to become a cultivated crop. Sunflower as an oilseed crop was introduced into India in 1969.

Economic Importance:

Sunflower is grown for its seeds.

Oil: Seeds contain up to 42% of oil by weight. Oil is light and supplies more Vitamin E than any other vegetable oil. It is a combination of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats with low saturated fat levels.
Meal: Similar to soyabean, the seed after oil extraction is fairly nutritious and used as livestock feed.

Climate and cultivation

Sunflower, though basically a temperate crop, is adaptable to both cold and warm weather conditions. It requires a cool climate during germination and seedling growth, warm and non-cloudy weather during flowering to seed maturity. Optimum temperature is 20o to 25o C but can tolerate up to 30oC. Sunflower cannot tolerate water logging even for a short period. An important factor that contributes for pollination and seed setting is bee activity; if it is not there to the required level, hand pollination is essential.

Seasons and crop calendar

Sunflower is cultivated as both kharif and rabi seasons but, two-thirds of production comes from rabi season crop. In addition, sunflower is also cultivated as summer crop in Punjab and West Bengal. Sunflower is a short duration crop and completes its life cycle in about three months.

World Scenario

World production and consumption is concentrated primarily in three countries viz., Ukraine, Russia and EU. Although Russia was the first to commercialize sunflower, it became the largest producer only from mid-2000s onwards. Ukraine witnessed a sharp rise in sunflower output since 2007 and became the largest producer from 2008 onwards.

World sunflower production has almost doubled during the past 12 years from about 21.4 million tons in 2001-02 to about 43.6 million tons in 2013-14. Ukraine, Russia and EU together account for more than 65% of sunflower acreage, production and consumption in the world. There was a significant shift in production pattern from Americas to European countries. Argentina used to be the second largest producer while the US was the fifth largest in the early 2000s but their share dipped drastically with a sharp rise in production of Ukraine and Russia.

Contrary to the other major producing countries, sunflower production in India dipped steadily and significantly from 2006-07 onwards. As a result, India slipped to 9th position n the world from the earlier 6th position. India now contributes for only about 2% of world sunflower output.

Domestic Scenario

Sunflower production in India as an edible oilseed crop took-off commercially from 1972 onwards. Its acreage has expanded remarkably from about 500 ha in the early 1970s to about 2 million ha in the early 1990s. The expansion in area continued till mid-2000s except for few years during 1999-00 to 2002-03. It is the fourth largest edible oilseed produced in the country.

Nevertheless, acreage and production of sunflower has started declining consistently from 2006-07 onwards. Sunflower output has dipped to almost 1/3rd during the past 10years from about 15 lakh tons in 2005-06 to about 5.5 lakh tons in 2011-12 primarily on account of a steep fall in area under sunflower cultivation.

Major producing states

Among various states, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra together contribute for about 83 per cent of total production in the country. Area and output from all the major states followed a similar pattern of rising until mid-2000s declined thereafter. However, production in Punjab and Haryana has declined consistently during the past 15 years. On the other hand, output from Orissa has been rising, though at a slow pace.

Important varieties
KBSH-1, Jwalamukhi, Sungene-85, PAC-36, PSFH-67, PAC-1091, MLSFH-47, TCSH-1, BSH-1, DSH-1, APSH-11, KBSH-41, KBSH-42, TNAUSUF-7,CO-1, CO-2, Surya, SS -56, LS-11.

Major markets

Spot markets
Bellari, Chellakare, Latur and Nanded

Futures trading: NA

External Trade

Major export destinations: NA
Major import sources: NA

Factors influencing prices

Carryover stocks: Leftover stocks from the previous year's production after meeting the demand.
Expected demand: Average level of consumption and exports during the past few years
Crop acreage: Extent of area sown under the crop
Production: Estimated output based on the acreage and weather conditions and pest infestation etc.,
Imports and exports: In case of edible oils, the traders need to know the details of important sources and destinations of the external trade. Further, the traders have to monitor the crop status in the respective countries.
Government policies: Any change in government policy relating to the crops such as minimum support price (MSP)
Procurement: Direct procurement by the government agencies and storage in warehouses change in tariff and base prices of externally traded goods will have a direct impact on the respective commodity prices.

Sunflower Products

Sunflower Oil

Main product derived from sunflower seeds is seed oil. Oil recovery is on average about 35%. India is a net importer of sunflower oil and the imports rose steadily since 2008-09 following the sharp fall in domestic production.

India is the third largest consumer of sunflower oil in the world after the EU and Russia. India is of stands as the largest importer in the world, marching past the EU. Import of sunflower stood at around 1 million tons on average during the past four years.

Major markets

Spot markets: Latur, Chennai and Hyderabad

Futures trading: Currently, not offered for trade on India commodity futures exchanges.

External trade

Major export destinations: NA

Major import sources: Ukraine and Russia

Sunflower Meal

Sunflower meal is the by-product of seed after extracting oil. It is used as a feed for livestock and poultry. Sunflower meal produced in India is completely consumed domestically.

Major markets

Spot markets:

Latur, Chennai and Hyderabad

Futures trading: NA

External trade

Major export destinations: NA

Major import sources: NA

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