Sask. mustard crop escapes extreme events

Saskatchewan producers are looking at another healthy mustard crop, say officials. 


Acres dedicated to the crop are up this year, and producers have been spared the worst of the weather and water that has dampened production in some parts of the Prairies. 


“I think we’re probably looking at a good crop,” Kevin Hursh, executive director of the Saskatchewan Mustard Development Commission, said at the organization’s field day held in Saskatoon July 17. 


He said producers are unlikely to see last year’s record yields, which averaged 947 pounds per acre. 


Walter Dyck, a mustard buyer with Olds Products Co., said it’s still too early to assess yields.


“The plants are still blooming and a little bit of rain during this stretch would be incredible, given how good things have developed to this stage,” said Dyck. 


“One or two inches in the next one to two weeks would be really quite amazing.”


Dyck said the areas of Saskatchewan that were affected by heavy rain and flooding in early July aren’t prime mustard country, although some mustard crops in North Dakota have been drowned out.


Agriculture Canada has estimated seeded mustard acres at 465,000 this year, up 100,000 acres from last year. 


Saskatchewan will account for 80 percent of national production. 


“We’re going to see an increase in total acres in Canada, but at the same time it only brings us back in line with what the average has been for the last 10 years,” said Dyck. 


Acres peaked in the early 2000s at more than 800,000 acres and bottomed out at 330,000 acres in 2003. 


“We’re only really just getting to kind of an average number,” said Dyck. 


“Even with normal production, we’re not talking about great excesses of mustard potentially this year.” 


In June, Agriculture Canada projected Canadian mustard production for 2014-15 at 190,000 tonnes, up 23 percent from last year. Of that, exports are projected to remain steady at 130,000 tonnes. 


Agriculture Canada said increased competition from the Black Sea region is pulling down prices. It expects prices to continue to decline in the coming year. 


Mustard prices have fallen several cents per pound from last year, when yellow prices were in the low 40s and brown was 38 cents per lb.


“The traditional mustard acres, the demand is about 125,000 tonnes. Canada has been very good at supplying that market over the years,” said Dyck. 


“It’s not really dependent on price so much. In Canada, whatever that price is, it seems to be able to feed that export (demand).”