The lockdown induced by the COVID-19 pandemic appears to have left many people feeling caged, and as many contact their feathered friends for company, the demand for sunflower seeds is increasing.
Daryl Rex of the Manitoba Crop Alliance noted that demand for sunflower seeds has increased by about 10 to 15 percent this year.
“Looks like with COVID, people are staying home and feeding the birds more,” Rex said in an interview on Friday.
Along with this increased demand, there has been an increase in prices, he said, as well as a growing crop footprint in Manitoba.
The price of sunflower seeds has risen by about 10 to 15 cents a pound, from an average of about 25 cents a pound to 40 cents, Rex said.
In the past three or four years, he said the sunflower plantation area was around 200 to 245 square kilometers, but this year it has grown to around 365.
Ben Friesen, director of sunflower purchasing at grain supplier Scoular Canada, said farmers have been urged to increase sunflower planting by around 10 percent or “probably a little more” this year to meet demand. increased.
Most of the calculation of the area devoted to sunflowers is done in November and December, he said.
“Last year’s supply has been reduced. There were no more stocks, ”he said. “So we, as buyers, encouraged farmers to grow more sunflowers. ”
However, as demand increased in the first months of the lockdown, he said farmers had further increased their plantings.
“In April-May, when the farmers were still just sowing, we saw an increase already from then on. So, maybe late in the season until May, some farmers made last minute changes and ended up planting sunflowers instead of some of the crops they might have otherwise. ”
While demand for confectionery sunflowers – those that are roasted and eaten or put into candy bars – has remained “fairly stable,” Friesen said, the sale of birdseed has exploded.
Sunflower seeds for birds are smaller while those used in confectionery are larger with gray stripes, Friesen said.
Canada is the 13th largest exporter in the world and the 25th largest producer of sunflower seeds, according to the federal government’s agriculture website. Manitoba is the largest producer of sunflower seeds in the country, according to the province’s website.
As for the cause of the increased demand, Graham Sorenson, the BC projects coordinator for the nonprofit Birds Canada, said his organization has seen an extraordinary resurgence of interest in the share of bird watchers and new bird watchers in recent months.
Most migratory birds start returning to Vancouver in April, he said. And it was probably in April and May that many people began to notice the presence of these feathered creatures as they spent more time at home.
Some of the questions the organization has asked new bird watchers include how to get started and connect with other birders, he said.
One of Birds Canada’s primary activities, according to Sorenson, is directing people to resources such as the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
He believes birdwatching will continue to skyrocket as a hobby even after the pandemic is over or even after some sort of shutdown.
Friesen, the grain seller, said most farmers and vendors also believe demand for birdseed will continue into the next year.
Sorenson described birding as part of something bigger than you.
“You can be in your house to see birds that could breed here all year round, or birds that have traveled to the boreal forest, and they come back through your lawn and eat food from your lawn.” , did he declare.
“And then they will travel south to Central America or South America. And so, that kind of feeling of being part of something really big… the migration and the great voyage of so many birds is really cool and really special. “