Low wheat prices and rising fertilizer costs are among the factors influencing Canadian farmers to increase their pulses output this year, particularly peas and lentils

By wpengine

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Farmers in Western Canada are getting ready to plant the 2014 crop. Although the Prairie cropping mix is diverse, of all the crops planted, wheat and canola comprise the bulk of total seeded area. Much of the remaining acres are allocated to barley, oats and pulses. Statistics Canada puts out their first acreage estimate on April 24, but many private analysts have been making their own projections, including FarmLink Marketing Solutions.

Total area allocated to pulses is expected to increase this year. There are a combination of factors which have contributed to this, including a sharp drop in the price of wheat, fairly good movement of pulses in a year when logistics were backlogged for many other crops, and the rising cost of fertilizer. The swing isn’t likely to be dramatic, and most growers will remain disciplined to their longer term cropping rotations, but the end result will still be more area committed to peas and lentils in particular, but also chickpeas and dry beans.

Peas

Peas are the largest pulse crop on the Canadian Prairies, with FarmLink Marketing Solutions estimating seeded area to increase to 3.7 million acres, compared to 3.285 million acres in 2013. And depending on how the market behaves in these last few weeks before the planters actually start operating, it’s not impossible that the area could be even larger, approaching the record of nearly 4 million acres set in 2008. Yellow peas make up more than three-quarters of the area, with green peas comprising most of the rest. While the total area devoted to green peas is relatively smaller, it’s expected to still be the largest in ten years.

Lentils

Lentils will also see a notable increase, with expectations of at least 2.7 million acres, and quite possibly more, compared to 2.38 million acres in 2013. Most of this increase will be in red lentils, which make up over half of lentil plantings, although large green lentils can expect to see a small increase as well. Small green lentil acres will likely be flat-to-lower.

Chickpeas and Dry Edible Beans

Chickpeas and dry edible beans are much smaller crops, although still important. Dry bean acres should increase to 325,000 in 2014, compared to 250,000 last year. While this will be above the five-year average, ten years ago it was more typical to see plantings above 400,000 acres. Expectations for chickpea acres are 205,000, up modestly from the year prior.

While the focus in the short term is fixed on how many acres get planted, yield is ultimately the more important driver for final production. This means that weather conditions in the coming months will become the key point of interest.

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