Canaryseed prices likely to stay on low side

Analyst also doesn’t expect a big change in prairie acreage, although a lack of data can make predictions tricky

Canaryseed acres are remaining similar to previous years, including the big production season of 2013, when the weather favoured the crop.

However, yields since 2013 haven’t been as abundant, and supplies can tend to be tricky to read because of a lack of hard data about the production side of the crop.

Chuck Penner, the Leftfield Commodity Research market analyst who follows the crop closely for some of his clients, says the lower yields and steady acres have proved to be adequate to the needs of the market, for the most part. The result is flat prices overall with traditional, annual buying and bidding patterns carrying the day.

Penner was providing his view of the market for Saskatchewan’s Canaryseed Development Commission during the annual Crop Week in Saskatoon earlier this month.

Canaryseed remains one of the minor crops that Statistics Canada doesn’t report anymore, and hasn’t for five years.

“There are as much as 25,000 tonnes of production not reported to StatsCan,” said Penner.

“It’s a crop that farmers will tend to keep a bin or two of, out in the back quarter, where they might not think too much about it until they see a price they like,” he said.

Every year Canada exports more canaryseed than it officially produces.

“Only in (the 2015-16 crop year) did we export more than we produced,” he said.

Drought conditions in Argentina created some new opportunities in South America and Brazil for Canadian production. That might be causing the market to turn upward slightly, but it also just could be creating support for current prices and little more.

Penner said no big moves in price are likely coming anytime soon, but bids at 22.5 to 23 cents are supporting some producers’ seeding plans to include the crop because few crops are penciling out reasonable margins this year.

The same regions in the southern Prairies where the bulk of canaryseed acres are found also grow durum, and with little incentive to produce that crop, canaryseed might find a home in the rotations. Most of the crop is grown in the Regina Plains area and in west-central Saskatchewan with a pocket in that province’s northeast.

The crop tends to be priced better in the later fall ahead of the Seaway closure and in the spring after it opens up again, “when those grocery boats with flax, mustard and canaryseed are going out,” said Penner.

He said Indonesia sometimes comes into the market later in the crop year. Stronger bids for the crop will result in more acres being planted and as a result hold a cap on prices being bid. Rebounds this year in the Argentine acreage will probably add to the supplies, and as a result producers can likely expect steady demand with flat pricing.

The human-use demand has been slow to develop, so premium markets haven’t yet materialized, said Kevin Hursh, executive director of the canaryseed commission.

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