Chickpeas buck pulse trend; increased production expected

Saskatchewan farmers are expected to turn in a smaller pulse harvest this fall, although chickpea production is bucking the overall downward trend.

Chickpeas are the only Saskatchewan pulse crop to post a production increase, in Statistics Canada’s latest estimate of 2018 production.

The estimates show Saskatchewan growers are expected to harvest about 221,000 tonnes of chickpeas, up from 95,600 in 2017.

Carl Potts, executive director of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, said growers in the province seeded far more chickpeas this spring at 368,000 acres compared to last year’s 160,000 acres; encouraged by high prices last year.

However, he said, the higher seeded acreage was offset somewhat by per-acre yields, which were coming in at about 20 percent less than the five-year average.

Overall, Canadian growers are expected to harvest 264,100 tonnes this fall, compared to 95,600 last year.

Lentil crops, meanwhile, were hit by a double whammy with bad news coming from international markets following India’s decision to stop imports and this summer’s hot, dry weather.

Red lentils especially took a hit, with farmers seeding 30 per cent less than the previous spring, said Potts.

“We have in this case, this combined effect that farmers, due to market conditions and low prices, chose to plant less as a result of dryness in the growing season,” he said. “Overall, StatsCanada is estimating about 11 percent less than the five-year average yields.”

Lentil growers in Saskatchewan, who are responsible for 1.197 million tonnes out of a national total of 2.167 million tonnes this year, are expected to produce 16.43 percent fewer lentils than a year ago, according to Statistics Canada. Saskatchewan producers grew 2.294 million tonnes of lentils in 2017.

Alberta lentils are expected to fall to 248,400 tonnes from 264,400 tonnes a year ago.

The report also estimates dry pea production will decline; down 13 percent to 1.717 million tonnes in Saskatchewan, 12.6 percent in Alberta to 1.736 million tonnes and down nationally 11.6 percent to 3.635 million tonnes.

Manitoba peas, however, are seen as increasing to 95,200 tonnes from 80,300 tonnes in 2017.

Potts said the Statistics Canada numbers are on track with many analyst predictions and most of the information it contained was already known to the trade.

A key difference this year, he said, might be the large yield variance from field to field.

“Even more than most years, I think this year we’re going to have a large amount of variability from grower to grower, depending on whether or not they were getting the timely rains through the growing season,” said Potts.

The Statistics Canada report for estimated production of principal field crops is based on data from a farmer survey in July.

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