Pea growers mull contract opportunities despite dry fields

CNS Canada –– The lack of rain in Western Canada is causing a few headaches for pea farmers, who don’t have a crop to call their own yet, but face Asian customers eager to get their hands on fresh supplies.

While rain is on the wish list of most growers on the Prairies, the pea crop is still hanging in there for now, according to a participant.

“I think in certain areas, the moisture situation is fairly significant. But from the people I’ve spoken with, peas are looking alright,” said Carl Potts, executive director for Saskatchewan Pulse Growers.

Some sections of Alberta and Saskatchewan are especially dry, but fortunately, he noted, peas are grown across a wide swath of the Prairies.

“Even with potentially lower yields (this year) than the last couple of years, I think we’re still expecting sizeable pea production.”

Virtually all of Canada’s old-crop supplies are now spoken for, but interest is already shifting to the new crop.

“India’s demand for the upcoming season is expected to be stronger,” said Potts. India’s domestic production is expected to be down two million tonnes this year because of moisture concerns, he said. As a result, pulse imports should rise significantly.

“Yellow peas and lentils from Canada are very well positioned to fill that import demand.”

Potts has spoken to some growers he said are already making forward contracts for new-crop deliveries, despite the moisture situation on the Prairies.

“As the yields becomes more certain we’ll see more foreign sales made if the prices are attractive,” he said.

China and Bangladesh are expected to remain strong clients for Canadian peas in 2015-16.

Still, with the lack of rain in many parts of Western Canada, Potts said growers will show caution with their contracting.

“I would expect a lot of growers will be waiting to see how their crop develops over the next few weeks before making too many commitments.”

Dave Sims writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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