Back-to-back droughts in India and extremely tight Canadian stocks to be carried out of 2015/16 have led to pulse crops such as lentils and dry peas to reflect some of the highest potential returns in 2016/17, according to Saskatchewan Agriculture's Crop Planning Guide 2016. This is based on returns over total rotational expenses. The guide represents a snapshot in time with respect to both projected costs and returns, and is viewed as merely a starting point while providing opportunity for producers to update utilizing their own yield and cost data.
The two top returning crops based on assumptions made are red and green lentils, ranging from $176.29 per acre to $223.34/acre across the three soil zones. Crop prices were based on December market indications, while remaining consistent with Monday's indications reported by Statpub.com. The second highest grossing crop, large green lentils, are reported at $69.96/acre to $148.91/ac over the three soil zones, while the indicated price of 31 cents/lb for the crop year compares to Statpub's Monday forward bids ranging from 35 to 44 cents for Sept/Oct/Nov delivery, suggesting even higher potential returns. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's first look at 2016/17 production in their January report, released on Monday, indicates lentil acres increasing 12.7% to a record 4.4 million acres in 2016.
First-time growers will enter the fray this crop year, with acres seen in less-traditional areas while only a lack of planting seed may limit seeded acres. Growers may be well-advised to lock in a portion of production for protection from potential downside risk.
In the middle of the chart lies canola, durum, malt barley and yellow peas, with projected returns of roughly $49/acre to $77/acre across the three soil zones, with canola returns projected to be the highest of the four. Projections show canola to hold above $10/bu over the upcoming year while yield is expected to equal to the province's five-year average at 33 bushels per acre. Yellow pea prices are estimated to average $8.74/bushel, while today's Statpub.com indications show yellow peas bid at $9 to $9.50 for new crop delivery, perhaps leaving provincial estimates deemed as conservative. Barley acres are estimated to grow by 2.2%, likely driven by increases in malt varieties.
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AAFC's estimates suggest a 14% boost in dry pea acres for 2016 to a record 4.2 million acres across the Prairies, while canola acres are estimated to grow by 3.7% and durum acres by 1.9%.
Spring wheat returns in the province are expected to range from $21.56/acre return in the brown soil zone to $41.15/acre return in the black soil zone, given a projected 12 bpa difference in projected yield. AAFC's estimates suggest spring wheat acreage will fall by 2% given competition from competing crops.
Four of the selected crops indicating prospects for negative returns are flax, feed barley, soybeans and oats. Saskatchewan acres seeded to both oats and soybeans could suffer, although current AAFC estimates suggest that both barley and flax acres will expand in the upcoming year.
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Cliff Jamieson can be reached at email@example.com
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