Prairie farmers kicking tires on the new tractors on display here this week at the annual Crop Production Show were also busy weighing their options on what to plant in 2012.
New-crop pricing opportunities were sporadic at best at the show, with more than one grain company rep describing the attitude as one of "kicking tires."
Malt barley may have seen the most new-crop opportunities, with a few delivery points advertising contracts in the $5.25 to C$5.50 per bushel range for fall delivery.
A few oats (around $2.85 per bushel), yellow peas ($7.20-$7.50), large green lentils (21 to 23 cents per pound), and milling wheat ($6.60-$7 per bushel, depending on grade) bids were also floating around — although the general consensus was that any prices out now were feelers, with the real pricing waiting until later in the month.
One rep noted that the show often provides a good chance for farmers and the industry to get a sense of what everyone else is thinking. However, at the same time there is also some reluctance to be the first one making a move one way or the other.
"Global economic uncertainty" was cited on more than one occasion as an overriding factor making it difficult to forward-price.
The major changes expected to the marketing sector with the end of the Canadian Wheat Board’s single desk for wheat, durum and malt barley in Western Canada were also resulting in some caution, especially as a number of legal challenges are still before the courts.
Grain traders, brokers, processors and other marketers at the show were generally optimistic on the changes an open market will bring to the industry. However, they also acknowledged that there will likely be some growing pains in the first few years.
While there was some talk of wheat taking acres away from other crops, the brokers dealing with pulses and special crops said the interest was still there in planting those commodities as well.
The one early winner in the opening stages of the fight for acres in Western Canada was canola, with talk at the show definitely leaning towards another sea of yellow across the Prairies.
Of the canola acres, all of the major players in the crushing sector were looking for an increase in high-oleic Nexera varieties, with a recent move by PepsiCo to use more of the specialty oil leading to increased contract opportunities.
The agronomics on growing Nexera canola were also said to be improving, making the premiums offered even more attractive.