I read an interesting article in the Cape Cod Times a few weeks ago. I found it especially interesting now that I have a thistle feeder since it was all about the rising price of thistle seed, or more accurately, nyjer seed.
The article explains how black-oil sunflower seed costs have remained relatively stable, while nyjer seed has spiked. It's expected to stay high throughout the remainder of peak bird feeding season, lasting until the middle of spring.
Here are some interesting facts about nyjer seed:
- It's called "black gold" because of its higher price
- There are two main factors contributing to the high price: importing and sterilization costs
- Imported Nijer comes mainly from India and Ethiopia
- The seed must be heated to prevent germination and spreading a non-native species
- It's possible for fertile seeds to sneak through causing a nijer plant (yellow flowering) to sprout- although it's unlikely to survive because of the climate differences
- Around 50,000 tons of nijer ($64 million worth) are imported into the U.S. each year
According to the Cape Cod Times article, "Some 30 to 50 percent of the Indian nyjer crop was wiped out by rainstorms in January. In turn, Ethiopian contractors, seeing an opportunity to capitalize, withheld shipments of their nyjer in hopes to securing higher prices."
For more information on nijer seed visit: http://www.ebirdseed.com/nyjer_niger_thistle_birdseed.html