Starting next week with Crop Production Week / CropSphere / Crop Production Show in Saskatoon, this is the season for crop marketing information. And this doesn’t necessarily mean the market outlook presentations featured at the various meetings.
Oh, I still like listening to a good analysis of supply and demand, but predicting what a crop is going to be worth nine months from now is difficult. Even if an analyst can correctly predict seeded acreage, good luck predicting the weather and even more luck is needed to forecast the international trading environment.
For those reasons, I pay more attention to new crop prices than market forecasts. You can’t take a market forecast to the bank. However, as long as the company you’re dealing with is solid, you can rely on a contract price and this is the season when many crop contract prices are typically announced including oats, flax, pulse and specialty crops.
A few prices are out already. Mustard is a crop where a lot of the production is typically contracted before seeding and a few companies are out with new crop prices. Unfortunately, on brown and particularly on oriental mustard, the prices are not very attractive. New crop brown seems to be in the 27 to 29 cent a pound range with new crop oriental mustard at a disappointing 22 cents.
Yellow mustard, although lower yielding, has a more attractive contract price of around 38 cents a lb. This pricing difference should be enough to attract yellow mustard acres at the expense of the other two types.
One of the pleasant surprises has been the price appreciation of another minor acreage crop — canaryseed. Starting about harvest time, it shot up to around 30 cents a lb., the highest in more than a decade and it has remained in the 29 to 30 cent range ever since.
If too many growers jump on the canaryseed bandwagon in 2020, the price could quickly retrace. There are inklings of new crop contract prices in the 25 or 26 cent a lb. range.
Lentils and peas will also be interesting. Red lentils have seen a big price boost in recent weeks. Since much of this has happened over the holiday season, it hasn’t been widely reported, but some business has been done in the 23 cent a lb. range, far better than the price in the fall. Large green lentils have also moved up.
Will companies be offering new crop lentil contracts and if so, at what price levels? The same question applies to peas, particularly green peas, which have shot up to $12 a bu. The strength in peas is somewhat surprising given the increased tariffs recently announced by India.
I also look forward to seeing crop planning guides, with projected returns for all the various crops. Manitoba came out with its guide some time ago. Saskatchewan’s guide typically comes out during Crop Week and it will feature crops that some producers may not typically budget.
The Saskatchewan Seed Guide will also be coming out. Particularly if you’re changing up your crop mix, it’s great to have an unbiased comparison of varieties along with information on where they can be purchased.
While some producers have a set rotation and already know exactly what they’ll be seeding in the spring, other producers will be influenced by what they hear in the upcoming weeks.