It’s next-year country again on the Prairies

While most of us started to think about the growing season ahead as soon as this fall’s harvest was over, or actually we never really stopped thinking about the year ahead, the pressure to make solid choices for spring 2019 is now intensifying.

Crazy stuff in world markets — driven in part by even-crazier world leaders, supported and opposed by desperate, vote-crazy legislators, who were elected by crazier voting-blocks — has created uncertainty.

No wonder commodities markets can’t latch onto supply-and-demand issues. Buyers are juggling more international intrigue than they are used to.

Choices of what to plant are tricky in Western Canada. In most other regions of North America, where most farmers will seed corn or beans, the decision is simpler. Many will up their corn to beans ratios, and as soon as the market believes that farmers have put those seeds in the ground, already-low corn prices will join even lower bean prices.

For western Canadian growers, canola prices have held up well, considering world oilseed supplies.

Hard red spring wheat and a few other spring wheats are looking better than one might expect.

Lentils are not likely going to grab prairie farmers by the heart strings this spring, except for those with deep pockets and bin space to spare. One shouldn’t rule out storing crops in anticipation of eventual better times, provided the crop in the bin remains as stable as money in the bank — or better.

Peas, on the other hand, are looking like a decent bet, especially for those who can garner big yields.

Flax prices have been doing well, but that can, and often does change, especially if a thousand or so irregular prairie growers decide to plant a few quarters each to it, driving up acreage for a normally small acreage crop.

Barley has proven itself more popular, and demand appears to be relatively strong in the feed market.

Oats, too, are back in vogue, with strong prices for good quality.

Fababeans and canaryseed might provide opportunities, as might several of the smaller acreage specialty crops.

Overall, it will likely be a year in which spreading the risk will make you a little money for 2019. In other words, a normal year.

Good luck and don’t plant flax; that’s mine.

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