Lentil business slow for now, but more acres likely

CNS Canada –– Lentil acres are poised for a slight increase in Canada this spring, with some area likely shifting from green into red varieties. However, ongoing logistics issues across Western Canada are putting some pressure on nearby values.

Canadian farmers planted 2.39 million acres of lentils in 2013, growing a 1.88 million-tonne crop, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada data. Early forecasts from the department call for a slight increase in acreage, to 2.47 million, but a decline in total production, to 1.58 million tonnes, due to a return to average yields.

Maritza Cano, with Simpson Seeds at Moose Jaw, Sask., said better prices for red lentils would likely see some intended acreage shift out of green and into red varieties, but she added that seeding intentions are still very much up in the air until next month.

In the nearby market, the logistics issues slowing rail movement across the Prairies are also causing problems for lentils, with buyers needing to book farther out than normal, said Cano.

Demand was there, she said, but transportation problems were forcing traders to look at different ways to ship the product. Logistics problems were limiting spot activity in lentils, she added, with any business taking place now for movement later in the spring or early summer.

The market for red lentils has been stable, with India, Pakistan and Middle Eastern countries all looking to buy, although not necessarily at the prices farmers may want to see, said Cano.

For green lentils, some demand from South America and Europe is still coming forward, but seasonal issues have limited the demand, with end-users generally covered for the time being.

Spot bids for green lentils are currently topping out at about 18 to 20 cents per pound, with red lentils also quoted as high as 20 cents, according to Prairie Ag Hotwire data.

— Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for MarketsFarm specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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