Three million & climbing

Prairie farmers appear to be getting a good start on their efforts to meet Soy Canada’s ambitious soybean targets. Statistics Canada’s first seeding intention survey of the year has found that farmers plan to grow almost three million acres of the crop in 2017.

Canadian farmers will be growing 10 million acres of soybeans by 2027 if Soy Canada has its way.

The industry association has established a series of targets, including doubling production to 13 million tonnes.

“We think these are aggressive targets but achievable,” said executive director Jim Everson.

“We want to set out some goals that motivate the industry.”

Average yield is forecast to increase to 48.2 bushels per acre from 44.1, but most of the production increase is expected to come from expanded acreage, and most of that will occur in Western Canada.

The association is forecasting six million acres in the West, up from 1.9 million in 2016 and four million acres in the east, up from 3.6 million.

Francois Labelle, executive director of Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers, said the western Canadian acreage goal is attainable.

“There’s a potential to see a jump of a million acres this year,” he said.

Soybeans delivered “tremendous yields” under wet conditions last year and solid economic returns.

“A lot of growers are interested in looking at soybeans and are trying them and sometimes are trying them in a big way,” said Labelle.

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He said the crop has taken off faster than corn in Western Canada because soybeans are easier to grow and farmers can use their existing equipment rather than investing in new seeders and grain handling infrastructure.

In Manitoba, soybeans have displaced canola in the Red River Valley and wheat on the western side of the province. Breeders are producing shorter season soybean varieties that are allowing the crop to migrate west into Saskatchewan.

Labelle said the challenge will be to grow the acres sustainably without introducing yield-robbing agronomic headaches such as root rot and the soybean cyst nematode.

Everson said the exponential growth in acreage and production is expected to attract investment in a new crush facility. He believes it will be built in Western Canada.

Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers commissioned a study that shows it would be feasible to build and operate a crush facility in that province.

Labelle believes it’s just a matter of time. He thinks companies are waiting for a sustained critical mass of acres and production before investing because it will likely be an expensive, large-scale facility.

“From what I understand, the margins are tight in that industry all the time, so people want to build a larger plant,” he said.

He acknowledged that one consideration for any company planning to build a plant is that soybeans grown in Western Canada have slightly lower protein levels than those produced in the United States because of the shorter growing season and cooler weather.

“That being said, it is a priority of the soybean industry to work with the plant breeders to improve the protein,” said Labelle.

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Soy Canada has set an average protein content target of 40.2 percent for Western Canada in 2027, up from 38.7 percent in 2016.

The association is forecasting 2.5 million tonnes of crush capacity by 2027, up from 1.89 million tonnes in 2016.

That compares to a forecast of 10.5 million tonnes of whole seed exports, up from 4.5 million tonnes last year.

In that way it is a different model of growth than the canola sector, which is forecasting more domestic crush than exports by 2025.

Everson said another goal of the industry is to expand production of high-quality, food-grade soybeans destined for markets like Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan.

It would like to see 1.8 million tonnes of foodgrain soybeans produced by 2027, up from 1.25 million tonnes in 2016.

“Those soybeans attract a higher value on the market because of the segregation and cleaning and quality of the product,” he said.

Companies have invested heavily in identity preservation systems for food grade soybeans in Eastern Canada.

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  • Harold

    I suppose you’re a Canadian and amongst other Canadians we just can’t seem to get things right, so we bring in foreign investors. Yes, another Canadian invention (CWB) in the scrap yard. This speaks highly of Canadians and our Government. If Government or Canadians could even sense a loss they would have examined the flaws and corrected their own invention. No doubt our brains are coming in from elsewhere and we are suited by them. Canadians who support Canadians and Canadian inventions are nothing more than whiners and complainers. Those who support the money of foreign ownership and control are the Canadian winners. Money has two faces; the one you see, and the one that you don’t see. Canadian now means 49% and you seem to be happy and detect no great loss; it is the other face of money. Making a living also has two meanings; there is having a living. There is a monetary meaning and a freedom meaning and slaves can only respond to the monetary and only wish that they had freedom. The Elite have both freedom and your Money and your labor. Does your bank account and life style show you otherwise?

    • Stephen Daniels

      ‘great Canadian invention’ a war measures act to control the price of grain?Nice rant but has no relevance to my comment.But at least you didn’t mention glysophate .

      • Harold

        I would like to learn how the War Measures Act was relevant to the creation of the CWB. Can you advise me upon where to look for this CWB mandate? The War Measures Act regulates: it does not create.
        I agree that the CWB was irrelevant, so why did you include the CWB in your comment? My so called rant was showing its irrelevance as placed in your comment. Good call.
        Glyphosate was not relevant either. Another good call.

  • Stephen Daniels

    No corn and soybean varieties are now adapted to western Canada.Iowa seems to do really well with corn for decades.As for auctions think that has to do with the average age of farmers being 55 which makes it as common to have 75 year old farmers as 35 year old ones.And that average age increased trough all the CWB years.

    • ed

      Yes you are correct. Almost all the farmers over 35 and under 55 have had auction sales. Many of the under 35 year old farmers will be moving into that group soon as well. The over 55 year olds have had the longest time frame under the CWB to financially fortify their ships, most knowingly and some not so much. That financial depth will get them through for quite awhile with our new lowest in history adjusted for inflation grain prices. Lower numbers of farmers has definitely been a trend since all of time due to mechanization and diesel fuel powered innovations. The free trade agreement in 1989 spiked that trend, the loss of the Crow Rate rail incentive to help get prairie produce down the longest track to port position so farmers could sell directly to a hungry world spiked it to a lesser degree and the trend is now being fueled hard again on the praries with the annexation of the farmers CWB selling cartel. Great observations Stephen!

      • Stephen Daniels

        Nice deflection as you ignore the fact the average age of farmers increased annually under the CWB and still does without the CWB Farming just isn’t an attractive option whether there was a CWB or not doesn’t matter.

        • ed

          It was better when you got 90% of the port price of your wheat to your farm gate with the CWB, than it is now when we are getting only 40-60% of the port price to farm gate without the CWB. Farming may not be an attractive option as you say, (you must of taken to heart my comments about your “ag. is booming” remark) but with an additional $4 billion a year in our pockets from wheat sales with a CWB we couldn’t be worse off, right.