Saskatchewan lentil acres seen rising

CNS Canada — The International Year of the Pulses is certainly living up to its name, as territories capable of growing them look to cash in on India’s insatiable demand for supplies.

However, it seems not all pulses are created equal, as lentils appear to be the main driver, with peas coming in second.

“It seems like the interest in lentils has gone crazy,” said Dale Risula, a special crops expert with Saskatchewan Agriculture in Regina.

Canadian area for the growing year will be around the 4.5 million-acre mark, he estimated, compared to 3.95 million acres seeded last year.

Other estimates out there are much larger, he noted. “I’ve even heard one far-out proposal of over eight million acres, but I don’t think we’ll see that.”

While green lentils have grown in value, Risula still expected the majority of acres to be in reds.

Soybeans may be feeling some slight pressure from the lentil craze, he said, but there is still significant interest.

“Progress is being made on finding varieties that are better suited to Saskatchewan. I don’t know if we’ll see an increase, but certainly not a decrease, it’s probably going to hold its own.”

In 2015, Saskatchewan farmers planted 270,000 acres to soybeans.

Interest in peas is high, but Risula doubted there will be any sizable increases in Saskatchewan. However, he said, things may be different farther west.

“It seems as though they’re catching on in Alberta, so if there’s an increase it will probably happen there,” he said.

Canadian pea growers planted 3.7 million acres to peas last year.

In addition to price, Risula said, pulses are becoming more attractive for crop rotation purposes.

“In addition to the nitrogen, there’s fungal organisms that reside in the soil following a pulse crop that makes it more beneficial to grow your cereal or non-pulse crop… so it’s not just prices,” he said.

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

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