Uncertainty over mustard acreage underpins market

Winnipeg, April 21 – Mustard acreage in Western Canada looks to remain relatively steady with last year’s total, according to an expert in the industry.

However he notes the ambiguity surrounding just how many acres will get planted is keeping prices firm.

Walter Dyck of Olds Food Products in Alberta says carry-over supplies of mustard are tight while demand from buyers has been strong.

As a result he believes mustard acres this spring could be very close to last year’s total of 500,000.

Saskatchewan accounted for 365,000 of those acres with the rest in Alberta.

Statistics Canada releases its planting intentions report on April 23.

Kevin Hursh of the Saskatchewan Mustard Development Commission believes acreage could go up.

“I think we might be looking at a small increase but it’s always a guessing game,” he said.

The uncertainty over this year’s acreage has supported prices, said Dyck.

“This year’s seeding is still a little bit up in the air what growers are going to do; 10 percent leeway either way. I think all of that contributes to the price moving higher,” he said.

According to the Prairie Ag Hot-Wire, prices for yellow mustard stood at 36 to 37 cents a pound while brown was 23 to 25 cents a pound and Oriental 32 to 34.

Dyck says spot market prices of yellow and brown types have risen a bit recently while Oriental has been steady.

“Demand for planting seed has been strong. In fact I think certified seed stocks in Canada are sold out,” said Dyck.

Moisture conditions are generally favourable for seeding, said Hursh, although some areas could do with a touch more rain.

“There should be an early start to seeding,” he added.

Hursh doubts many farmers will decide to switch away from mustard at the last minute.

“I think people have made up their mind and wouldn’t have the option of switching,” he said.

Both men expect yellow mustard will continue to be the most frequently planted variety while Hursh thinks brown mustard could be due for a slight reduction.

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