Smaller Manitoba soybean crop expected, prices watching U.S.

Like most crops grown this year, Manitoba's soybean yields were also highly variable in 2018. | File photo

Winnipeg – Like most crops grown this year, Manitoba’s soybean yields were also highly variable in 2018. While early reports point to smaller production overall, lower-than-average yields won’t translate to higher prices given the large United States crop prospects.

Manitoba soybean yields are “anywhere from 20 to 50” bushels per acre, said Mark Jorgenson, of Delmar Commodities. He said the crops were looking “exceptional” up until the end of July, “but the tap just turned off and a lot of guys got nothing (precipitation) in August.”

“You got it, or you didn’t, and that’s how the yields are showing,” said Jorgenson adding that even neighbouring fields were reporting different yields due to the sporadic shower activity.

Average soybean yields in the province are typically in the high 30s to low 40s (bushels per acre), but Jorgenson expected the average to be in the lower 30s in 2018.

With a lower acreage base to start, Statistics Canada is currently predicting soybean production in the province to come in at 1.77 million tonnes, which would be down from the record 2.25 million tonnes grown the previous year but still above the five-year average.

While Manitoba soybean production may be down, prices will continue to be dictated by the U.S. “At the end of the day, we obviously can’t replace the loss of U.S. beans. We’re a much smaller acreage base,” said Jorgenson.

“There is uncertainty in the market with all of the tariffs,” said Jorgenson pointing to the ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China weighing on soybean futures prices.

“China still needs to eat and they have a huge appetite for soybeans,” said Jorgenson. He said Canadian soybeans were seeing some additional demand due to the U.S./China dispute, with good new crop pricing opportunities available earlier in the year. While Canadian prices usually follow the U.S. “every once in a while somebody needs to fill a train . . . and flat prices shoot up.”

“I think there will be opportunities, and you just need to be patient,” he added.

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