Prairie pea yields appear lower in early harvest

Green peas. (PulseCanada.com)

CNS Canada — Western Canada’s pea harvest has begun and yields appear to be down, according to a crop management specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture.

“Once farmers cut into the peas they began finding yields maybe half of what they typically expected,” said Shannon Friesen.

Excess dryness in the early summer seems to have taken its toll.

“So even though things look OK at first, it seems we maybe didn’t get the timely rains (we needed) to fill some of those pods. So we’re not really having as much yield as we would have hoped.”

Heat blasts during the flowering period also hurt the plants, she added.

To further complicate the picture, thunderstorms rolled across the Prairies last week, pushing down crops in certain areas and dumping additional moisture on fields.

“Last week’s storms certainly lodged a bunch of the crop, some of them (the plants) are still low to the ground,” she added.

“There’s probably some damage done from the storm that went across the province mid-week. But you really don’t know until you get out there and see,” said Bobby Leavins, operations manager at Rayglen Commodities in Saskatoon.

Fortunately, dry weather is expected in southern Saskatchewan this week, which should help producers with their field work.

Yellow pea prices currently sit in and around the $9 per bushel level, Leavins said.

“The general rule of thumb is peas tend to go down at harvest time because of farm deliveries; a lot of growers move peas quite early, it’s the first crop to come off and will get delivered into the system pretty promptly.”

Green varieties aren’t as active right now, Leavins said, pointing out “there’s quite a bit of carry in that market.”

Canada’s pea crop looks like it will be slightly smaller than last year’s with an average to below-average harvest, said Friesen, who’s based in Moose Jaw.

“We are harvesting earlier than we have been in several years. We actually had some peas coming off at the end of July. Last year (at this time) we were still desiccating.”

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

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