Canada Markets

Prairie Lentil Crop in the Spotlight

Cliff Jamieson
By  Cliff Jamieson , Canadian Grains Analyst
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The dark green bars and the dark red bars represent the percent change in price of large green lentils and red lentils between early July and the first week of September. The light green and orange bars represent the percent change in price between July and December for these two commodities. (DTN graphic by Nick Scalise)

The radar shows the heavy rains hitting southern Saskatchewan moving east into Manitoba, while AAFC's Departure from Average Precipitation for the Prairie Region shows much of southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba receiving between 60 millimeters to more than 120 millimeters (2.4 inches to more than 4.7 inches) above average in the April 1 through July 11 period.

At present, the crop in the spotlight is the lentil crop. The June 29 Statistics Canada acreage report estimated the prairie lentil crop at 5.840 million acres, a record acreage and 47.8% higher than the previous year. Of this area, 90% is seeded in Saskatchewan. Besides the huge increase in acres, another reason for focus on the crop is that it is one of the least tolerant to heavy moisture. A Saskatchewan Pulse Growers article titled Growing Lentils in the Fringe by Donna Fleury P. Ag, states:

"Select fields with lighter textured soils and good drainage. Lentils do not like wet feet or waterlogged soils and will die if flooded. Avoid fields with salinity. Excess moisture before the plant is in full bloom can delay and reduce seed set, lengthen days to maturity, and increase disease problems."

The lentil market has continued to slide lower, with Wednesday's Statpub.com spot bid delivered to Saskatchewan plants averaging 53.28 cents/pound for No. 1 large green lentils, which compares to the weekly crop-year high reported by the Saskatchewan government at 76.06 cents/lb. shown for the week of April 20. This price reflects the lowest level seen since late November. New-crop is bid in a range of 42 to 46 cents. No. 1 red lentils are bid at 32.91 cents/lb., down from Saskatchewan Agriculture's weekly high of 52.28 cents which was reported in the week of Jan. 15. This reflects the lowest bid seen since late September. New-crop is bid between 28 to 30 cents/lb. so old-crop has almost fully converged with new-crop.

The accompanying chart shows the price trend for large green lentils and red lentils between 1) early July and early September (J-S); and 2) early July and early December (J-D), as seen in weekly prices reported by Saskatchewan Agriculture and measured by percent change in prices delivered to Saskatchewan plants. In three of the five years, September bids had moved lower from the prices posted for the first week of July, as seen in 2011, 2013 and 2015. The only year of the five where prices continued to weaken over the fall to even lower levels was seen in 2011, with large green lentils losing 14.2% between July and September and 23.2% between July and December.

The past two years, 2014 and 2015, have seen strengthening prices over the fall, with prices for both green lentils and red lentils sharply higher than the early July bids.

Saskatchewan Agriculture's weekly crop report will be watched closely for signs of damage to lentils and other crops given the excessive moisture seen in many areas, to be released on Thursday morning.

Cliff Jamieson can be reached at cliff.jamieson@dtn.com

Follow Cliff Jamieson on Twitter @CliffJamieson

(ES)

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