It was my first time to the FarmTech conference in Edmonton. There were lots of great speakers in a great venue. After three days of soaking up information, here are some take-home messages.
Thomas Mielke of Oil World from Hamburg, Germany, and David Drozd of Ag-Chieve from Winnipeg agreed that better canola pricing opportunities should occur in the weeks ahead.
While Mielke does analysis based on supply and demand fundamentals, Drozd is a technical analyst who examines chart trends.
Mielke says production concerns and export problems in South America should improve canola prices in the near term, providing an opportunity to market old crop and also price some new crop. However, he believes the average canola price for the 2013 crop is likely to be lower than the price enjoyed for 2012 production.
Drozd believes canola prices have bottomed and are heading back up. He’s looking for a November futures price of $580 a tonne before making new crop sales. That should provide the opportunity to lock in some new crop canola at $13 a bushel.
Drozd also told farmers that $9 a bu. should become available for yellow peas this spring, a view shared by Chuck Penner of Leftfield Commodity Research, also from Winnipeg.
Penner said yellow pea prices have been rallying in India, which should also be reflected in Western Canada. When Penner’s prediction hit Twitter, other market watchers reported that yellow pea bids had already hit $9 in some locations.
Of course, grain prices are closely linked to world weather conditions. Drew Lerner of World Weather Inc. told FarmTech audiences he doesn’t believe the United States will have a second bad drought in 2013. The country’s big moisture deficit will make trend yields difficult to attain, but he says there’s a low probability of another mega-drought.
As for the weather in Western Canada, Lerner doesn’t foresee big problems with spring flooding. In fact, most areas may see a drier spring than normal. However, the fall could have above average precipitation.
Peter Johnson, also known as Wheat Pete, had big crowds at his presentations. Johnson, who is the cereal specialist with Ontario’s agriculture ministry, is passionate about improving wheat yields. Even though his research and experience are based in Ontario, the prairie farmers attending FarmTech lapped up his views on how to hit 150 bu. per acre.
According to Johnson, the miracle products on the market are worthless, and micronutrients are largely smoke and mirrors. The best boost for wheat yields that Johnson has found comes from the interaction of nitrogen and fungicide.
Increasing rates of nitrogen give a small yield boost, while properly timed fungicide applications also give a small yield increase. Together, there’s an additive effect. One plus one equals three.
The other factor is genetic potential. Johnson suggest that with our hard red spring wheat we may be so focussed on quality that we’re giving up yield potential.
And here’s an interesting observation from Merle Good, provincial tax specialist with Alberta Agriculture.
Want to know what cash rents are in a particular region? Good says they’re typically 18 to 22 per cent of the gross return from an acre of land. If producers are averaging $400 an acre as their gross return, chances are that cash rents will be in the $80 an acre range.
It’s easy to see why attendees rave about the info they glean at FarmTech.
Kevin Hursh is an agricultural journalist, consultant and farmer. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.