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Low soybean yields may discourage growers

Soybean acres in Western Canada jumped a phenomenal amount this year, rising to to 3.1 million in 2017 from 1.8 million in 2016.

But acres will likely shrink in 2018 because soybean yields were below average in Manitoba and awful in Saskatchewan.

Dennis Lange, Manitoba Agriculture soybean and pulse expert, holds that opinion, He projects 2018 area at two million acres in the province, down from 2.29 million in 2017.

“I think we’ll see a bit of a drop this year. Just because of how dry things were… yields were a little more reduced,” Lange said at a November meeting in Brandon on the potential of a soybean crushing plant being built in western Manitoba.

Lange said average yields in Manitoba will likely be 34 bu. per acre but Statistics Canada’s final production estimates won’t come out until December. His estimate will likely prove close to the final actual numbers because most producers reported yields from 20 to 50 bu. per acre.

“I think we might end up somewhere in the middle of the road there for average yield, like around 35ish,” Cassandra Tkachuk, Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers production specialist, said in October.

If Tkachuk and Lange are correct, yields will be down from 2016 when Manitoba growers averaged more than 40 bu. per acre.

Dry weather through the summer and lack of rain in August, a critical period for pod fill, hampered yields in Manitoba. Conditions were even drier in southern Saskatchewan where a drought hammered many soybean fields.

Statistics Canada’s September production report pegged the average soybean yield at 24 bu. in Saskatchewan.

That may be generous.

Saskatchewan Agriculture’s final crop report estimated average yields at only 18 bu. per acre.

Poor yields usually lead farmer to reduce seeding the following year.

Acres may also retract next spring in Manitoba but Lange remains optimistic. He predicts that soybeans could reach three million acres in the province by 2023.

If beans hit those levels, they may overtake canola as the most popular crop in the province.

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