Easy to second guess pre-priced grain this year

Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve — the lament over selling grain too soon. Over the past two months, most grain prices have increased significantly. In fact, some of the increases can be characterized as dramatic.

Back in the first half of September, for a crop return analysis in this column, I collected pricing data based on published sources. Comparing those prices to current values shows a dramatic improvement in profitability.

Lentils were already the most profitable crop and they’ve shown some of the biggest price increases. Two months ago, the f.o.b. farm price for red lentils was in the 25 cent a pound range. Now, 29 cents is more typical. Four cents a lb. on an average Saskatchewan yield of 1,548 lb. an acre is an additional $62 an acre.

Large green lentils have been even more buoyant going from around 29 cents a lb. to around 37. Eight cents a lb. is $4.80 a bushel in just two months. The per acre return for an average crop has improved by a whopping $123.

Peas have also seen amazing appreciation. The farmgate price for yellow peas has gone from about $6.50 a bushel to $8.75 while green peas have increased from $7.50 to around $9.75. In both cases, for an average pea crop of 39 bu. per acre, the return has increased by $88 an acre.

Flax is also in the category of amazing, particularly since analysts are at a loss to explain the price strength. Two months ago, flax was around $14 a bu., which seemed like a really good price. Now there are quotes for $17 per bu. f.o.b. farm.

With flax having an average Saskatchewan yield of around 23 bu. an acre, the price improvement equates to an additional $69 an acre.

Feed barley prices are freight sensitive, but the price since early September increased nearly a dollar per bu. and has actually slipped back a bit. Current prices are roughly 80 cents a bu. ahead of two months ago, an additional $54 a bu. for a 67 bu. per acre crop.

In early September, canola had already gone on a strong bull run and was in the range of $11 a bu. Since then, it has increased by an additional 70 cents. Of course, with the volatility, that may be higher or lower by the time you read this.

Durum prices have improved by about 80 cents a bu., while the increases in both spring wheat and oats have been much more modest — perhaps 30 cents.

Canaryseed is up by a couple cents per lb., going from 29 to 31. Soybeans are up roughly a dollar a bu. Kabuli chickpeas that were around 27 cents a lb. are seeing some bids around 33 cents, as long as you don’t have too many in the small diameter seven millimetres size within the sample.

One of the few crops not to experience any noticeable price improvement is mustard. A rising tide generally lifts all ships, but so far mustard has resisted the trend.

Where prices go from here is anyone’s guess. Is there another leg higher or will prices stagnate and then slip lower?

It certainly hasn’t been a good year for having a lot of grain pre-priced or selling right off the combine. Prices may have looked pretty good at harvest time, but they look even better now.

There is not much use in playing the could’ve, would’ve, should’ve game, but it’s hard not to.

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