Trends for 2016: Pulses expected to steal acres from cereals

CNS Canada — Canadian farmers are expected to seed more pulse crops at the expense of cereals in 2016, according to early projections from industry experts looking at current market trends.

“Definitely we’ll see an increase in pulse crop acreage,” said Bruce Burnett, weather and crop specialist at G3 Canada.

Lentils and peas are seeing strong new-crop bids, which increases the likelihood that producers will plant them, he said.

Alyssa Mistelbacher, market analyst at FarmLink Marketing Solutions, also expects increased pulse crop acres in 2016 due to lentil and pea pricing for old and new crops.

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Mistelbacher expects producers to seed about four million acres of peas and 4.4 million acres of lentils across Canada.

“We’re definitely going to see more lentils, everything I hear from everybody. They’re all getting a little nervous because there might be a lot more,” said Chuck Penner of LeftField Commodity Research.

“I think there’s going to be a lot more peas too, and so the question is where are those acres going to come from?”

New-crop bids for all varieties of lentils range from 25 to 42 cents per pound across the Prairies, while yellow peas are $8.10 to $9.17 per bushel in Saskatchewan, according to Prairie Ag Hotwire.

Cereal crop acres, Burnett said, are probably going to drop, “with some exceptions.”

Durum acreage will likely increase slightly, and will be preferred to spring wheat due to better prices throughout 2015, he said.

“But otherwise, the oat and barley, and overall wheat acreage should drop, with the pulse crops increasing.”

However, Mistelbacher said she expects barley acreage to stay steady to slightly higher.

“I think barley will be one of the better performing cereal crops this year, as prices have held up relatively well for malt, and even feed as well.”

She expects barley’s seeded area to stay flat to slightly higher.

Since cereal crops have been lagging in comparison to pulses, price-wise, Mistelbacher expects a pullback in acres by about five to 10 per cent.

“I would say those acres are probably shifting out of spring wheat and into durum, so we’ll see a boost that way,” Penner said.

Despite decreased spring wheat acres, Penner doesn’t think it will help prices much — except maybe adding an extra $5-$10 per tonne to basis levels.

“But I don’t think it’ll help much with the futures. There’s much bigger factors at play.”

Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS) wheat delivered elevator new crop bids for 2016-17 across the Prairies range from C$5.89 to C$6.88 per bushel, according to Prairie Ag Hotwire.

New-crop malt barley bids in Saskatchewan will bring producers about $5.50 a bushel, while feed barley will bring about $3.59 per bushel.

In oilseeds, Penner ruled out the possibility of farmers putting canola acres toward increased pulse production.

“I think for the most part farmers are going to leave canola acreage unchanged,” he said.

However, Burnett said he thinks oilseed acreage will increase, given prices for new-crop oilseed, especially canola.

New-crop canola bids across the Prairies range from $10.21 to $10.78 per bushel, according to Prairie Ag Hotwire.

New-crop bids for soybeans are not yet available.

Jade Markus writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. Follow her at @jade_markus on Twitter.

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