Pulses steady in sea of uncertainty

Winnipeg – Every spring offers its own mystery of what the growing season will bring, and this year is no different for the Western Canadian pulse markets. However, while the unknowns are usually linked to the weather or acreage ideas, this year also presents extra challenges for the pulse sector.

India remains a major wildcard in the background of the pulse market, as stiff import tariffs keep sales to the major pea and lentil buyer at a standstill.

Anticipation that India will need to come back to Canada has built a number of times over the past few months, with nothing ever coming of the rumours, said David Newman, of Commodius Trading. He said some real export business will need to materialize in order to provide some real support.

“With all of these tariffs, real and implied, it’s really hard to be in the right place at the right time,” said Newman.

Results of the election currently underway in India could alter the situation there, but Newman expected the tariffs would remain until it benefitted the country to lower them.

Beyond India, “the entire complex is changing,” said Newman. He said the situation between Canada and China on canola has added to a generally “bizarre” marketing environment in which what was once weird has become normal. As a result, he expected prices to hold range-bound barring something even more out of the ordinary.

Large green lentils are currently priced in the 18 to 20 cents per pound area for both old and new crop in western Canada, while red lentil bids top out at 18.5 cents, according to Prairie Ag Hotwire data.

Old crop green pea supplies are tight, with bids as high as C$12.50 per bushel. However, with expectations for increased green pea acres in 2019 new crop bids are considerably lower, ranging from about C$8.00 to C$9.00 per bushel. Yellow pea pricing can be found in the C$6.00 to C$6.50 per bushel area for both old and new crop.

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