Saskatchewan pulse acreage ideas hold firm despite pressures

Winnipeg (CNS Canada) – Disruptions marketing to India may have cut into prices for peas and lentils over the past year, but farmers in Saskatchewan did not shift their acreage intentions for 2018 all that much when it comes to pulses, according to survey results released by Statistics Canada on April 27.

Saskatchewan farmers intend to seed 2.171 million acres of peas, which would be actually up slightly from the 2.165 million seeded in 2017. Lentil intentions were down, but not by as much as many industry participants had expected. When the survey was conducted in March, Saskatchewan farmers intended to plant 3.591 million acres of lentils, which compares with 3.920 million the previous year.

Chickpeas, meanwhile, should see an increase in the province, with intended area estimated at 279,200 acres, from 160,000 in 2017.

Based on overall market conditions, actual lentil area may still end up lower than the survey, said Carl Potts, executive director of the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers. He noted that nothing has changed on the marketing front over the past few months. “We continue to have high import duties for our largest market (India) for both red lentils and yellow peas.”

For what is seeded, Potts expected to see a significant reduction in red lentil acres and an increase in greens, as the green lentil market is not as reliant on India. Depending on what happens with price spreads between green and yellow peas, he said there could also be more shifts in yellow peas than greens.

However, solid demand for yellow peas from domestic fractionation plants and China is making Canada less reliant on India for yellow peas as well.

For chickpeas, the intended acres in Saskatchewan would mark the largest acreage base in a decade. While chickpeas are riskier to grow than lentils, Potts said the relative returns were starting to look better for chickpeas in the regions they’re grown.

Potts linked the growing North American demand for hummus as another factor behind the strength in chickpeas, as that demand creates a closer market for the commodity.

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