The European Union (EU)’s sunflower area in 2021 will be at the same level as last year, according to the latest European Commission (EC) estimates reported by the Union for the Promotion of Oil and Protein Plants (UFOP) on 8 June.

According to the EC’s forecast, the EU sunflower area for harvest in 2021 totalled around 4.4M ha.

In terms of area, Romania continued to be the top producer in the EU-27 with around 1.23M ha, compared with 1.22M ha last year, UFOP said.

Hungary’s sunflower area had expanded by 6.3% to around 643,000 ha compared to 2020, according to the report.

The expansion in Spain’s sunflower area was expected to be even larger at 8.1% year-on-year while, in Germany, an increase of 3.6% to 29,000ha was forecast.

A drop in sunflower area in France (by 14.4%) and Italy (6.5%) was offset by expansions in other sunflower-producing countries, according to the EC’s statistics – analysed by Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft – which meant the total production area remained unchanged.

In its outlook for 2021, the EU Commission forecast yields at an overall average of 23.9 decitonnes/ha, UFOP reported, which represented a 20.2% year-on-year rise.

Excessive rainfall in Bulgaria and Romania during the last year had reduced the overall yield, UFOP wrote.

Meanwhile German farmers were estimated to harvest 21 decitonnes/ha in 2021, compared to 22.1 decitonnes/ha the previous year.

The highest yields/ha were expected in Hungary, according to the report. At around 31.8 decitonnes/ha, the forecast expected Hungarian yields to exceed the previous year’s level by more than 15%.