Area seeded to peas seen down, not up

(Resource News International) — The amount of area to be seeded to peas this spring in Western Canada is seen to be less than expected, not more, with weather and huge carry-in supplies likely to cause producers to switch out of the crop.

“I am a little skeptical of the recent planting survey from Statistics Canada that showed producers were going to increase acreage to peas this spring,” said Fred Greig, pea chair for Manitoba Pulse Growers. “Especially in view of the huge supply of peas that are sitting on farms in Western Canada.”

StatsCan, in its April 24 planting survey, indicated that farmers in Western Canada were planning on seeding 4.205 million acres to peas in the spring of 2009. That compares with 3.995 million acres seeded in the spring of 2008.

Stocks of peas on farm and in commercial position as of March 31 were pegged by the government agency at 1.675 million tonnes, compared with 870,000 at the same time a year ago.

Greig said the continued wet soil conditions and the below-normal temperatures in Manitoba have probably caused a number of producers to consider their alternatives.

“If producers can still get the crop seeded by the end of this week, the crop is likely to do well,” Greig said. “However, any later and producers will be a bit nervous about seeding.”

Also, peas really do not like it too wet, he noted, and that is certainly a problem in Manitoba. “Overly wet conditions are a major cause of disease in peas.”

Greig estimated that the area seeded in Manitoba to peas would be actually down 18 per cent from the year-ago level of 110,000 acres.

He also felt strong prices for lentils, particularly reds, would be an attractive alternative to producers in Saskatchewan and would result in some switching.

“I’m thinking that with the move to red lentils, the area seeded to peas in Saskatchewan will be equal or down 10 per cent from the year-ago level,” Greig said.

Seeded area to peas in Saskatchewan in the spring of 2008 totalled 3.175 million acres data from StatsCan said.

Greig forecast that pea acres in Alberta will also be steady or down 10 per cent from the 2008 level of 710,000 acres.

Cash bids for green peas in Manitoba have been holding around the $8 per bushel level, which Greig said wasn’t too bad given the large supply situation.

“I’m just wondering if the grain companies aren’t keeping values up a bit, hoping to encourage producers not to switch too many acres out of peas,” Greig said.

As for yellow peas, he indicated, producers were unlikely to unlock their bins for anything less than $6 a bushel.

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