Sunflowers have been commercially grown in Canada for the past six decades.
Sunflowers, although small in acreage, are a diverse, sustainable, rotational cash crop.
Canada’s annual production of sunflower seeds has average at 85 MT/year on 42,000 hectares seeded. Canada produces both confectionery and oilseed varieties of sunflower seed and is a competitive partner in the growing international market for this special crop.
Canada’s share of the world export market for sunflower seeds is very small, 1–2%. Historically, Canada has exported most of its sunflower seeds to the US (80%) and in some small volumes, to United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Kuwait. The Canadian sunflower industry is aggressively working to source new market opportunities for products, including cold-press sunflower oil, as a stream.
The sunflower crop has been faced with decreased acres, primarily due to three challenges: relative price based on competitive crops; perception about sunflower production; and the timelines for movement of the crop.
As a special crop, the importance of ongoing investments to rebuild the industry is critical. The required grassroots research on hybrid development and production research is necessary to boost profitability and to enhance yield and quality for Canadian producers. The National Sunflower Association of Canada is future focused, working on initiatives that will make the Canadian sunflower industry profitable over the next decade and beyond.