Harvest in this part of southwestern Saskatchewan is more than half done.
On our moderate-sized operation, the large green lentils, Nexera Clear-field canola and brown mustard have been combined. We’re well into the canaryseed, and the kabuli chickpeas have been desiccated.
It’s a good time to start comparing the relative returns of the various crops.
My estimated yield on the large green lentils is 31 bushels, or about 1,860 pounds, an acre. Most are grading No. 2.
Assuming an average price of 19.5 cents a pound, the gross return comes to around $362 an acre.
I’ve heard of much higher yields on red lentils in the area. While this is one of my best yields on large greens, I regret not making a fungicide application. I used fungicide last year and didn’t think it made a difference. This year, I believe it would have paid handsomely.
Lentil prices are depressed and the crop isn’t the attractive cropping option it was a few years ago. Many neighbours are reporting yellow pea yields in the 50 bu. per acre range.
Even though that price has dropped to perhaps $6.50 a bu., the gross return will be about $325 an acre, which isn’t far behind a lot of the lentils.
My canola yield is nothing to brag about. A long stretch of no rain in the spring resulted in patchy germination. The end result of 32 bu. per acre is far better than I thought in June and July, but many crops in the area will yield far better.
This is Nexera canola and a non-genetically modified crop as well (Clearfield), which means there are price premiums. I pulled the trigger and priced the entire estimated production in early September for a f.o.b. farm price of $12.31 a bu. The gross return should turn out to be about $394 an acre.
I’m sure there will be lots of 40 bu.-plus crops in the area, and even at a price of $11 a bu., returns will be better than mine.
My brown mustard was a good crop. The yield was 29 bu. per acre (1,450 lb.), which is pretty decent for mustard.
Much of it is contracted at 37 cents a pound, and a price close to 37 cents should be achievable on the remainder, providing it grades a one. Gross return should be in the $530 an acre range on a crop that’s less expensive than canola to grow.
We’re still chewing through the canaryseed. The stand is highly variable, but it looks like the yield will average at least 30 bu. an acre (1,500 lb.), which is one of the best results I’ve ever had.
Some of the canaryseed is contracted at about 27 cents a lb. A price of 25 cents may be available on the remainder. Gross return should be about $385 an acre.
In the spring, I went with canaryseed as my cereal crop rather than durum. Assuming a durum price of $7.50 a bu., the durum yield would have to be more than 50 bu. per acre to match the gross return on the canaryseed, and canaryseed is a cheaper crop to grow.
The jury is still out on the kabuli chickpeas on both yield and price.
Like most regions of the Prairies, yields here are well above average, which will help compensate for softening prices.
Bin space is going to be an issue for many growers, and immediate delivery opportunities are dwindling on many crops.
Kevin Hursh is an agricultural journalist, consultant and farmer. He can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]