Seeding plans indicate demand for inoculants

Producers planning to grow pulses and special crops may want to order inoculants early to ensure supply

Prairie producers’ planting plans are pushing legume pulses and oilseeds acres up, which means growers will be requiring more of some products than usual.

Rhizobial inoculants might be in tight supply this spring because increased acreage of lentils, peas and soybeans will increase demand for the perishable products.

“I know we are all seeing higher interest in alternative crop strategies beyond wheat and canola this year,” said Darrell Wolekowski of Mon-santo Bioag, which among other things works with Saskatoon-based Novozymes to develop and market inoculant products.

Agriculture Canada’s outlook for this year’s seeding season is for a 14 percent increase in acreage of pulse and special crops, many of which will require rhizobial inoculants to achieve reasonable yields.

Last year’s planting season saw a 10 percent drop in pulse acres from 6.7 million acres in 2012 to 5.9 million.

It is likely that producers will plant even more pulse acres than the 6.4 million that Agriculture Canada predicted, say industry analysts.

Peas went from 3.3 million acres in 2012 to 2.9 million in 2013. In 2014, producers are expected to return to the 3.2 to 3.3 million acre range. While peas and lentils will likely rise at least 10 percent in acreage with lentils reaching about 2.2 million, chickpeas are looking at a similar drop in acres.

Soybeans, despite an acreage reduction in Ontario for this year, will increase on the Prairies by up to 300,000 acres as more producers look for a commodity crop that hasn’t suffered as much of a price drop as some others.

Wolekowski said the rise in demand for the inoculant products in Western Canada is a concern for the companies who manufacture and distribute.

“I think it is in producers’ interests to let their retailers know what they are going to need this spring, as things could get a little tight in May,” he said.

Some special crop producers are already reporting shortages of inoculants for crops such as clover.

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