Man., Sask. soybean acreage on the rise

CNS Canada — Record-breaking soybean yields are prompting another year of expansion of the oilseed in Manitoba fields, according to an industry-official.

A year ago, producers in Manitoba planted more than one million acres of soybeans in the province, the most ever. The average yield in Manitoba was 39 bushels an acre — another all-time record, according to Dennis Lange, a farm production advisor and pulse crop specialist with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development at Altona, Man.

Current projections call for 1.2 million to 1.3 million acres of soybeans to be planted this year in the province, but the final amount will depend on when producers can get into the field, he said.

“The last three to four years we’ve seen some good yields, some very respectable yields, and prices have also been up, and growers have been able to make some money on that.”

The traditional growing region in the province runs from the RM of Stanley (including Morden), north to Portage la Prairie and then east to the Manitoba-Ontario border. Eighty per cent of the provincial crop is found in that region, according to Lang. The rest can be found as far south as Boissevain, or as far north as Swan River.

The acreage footprint is slowly expanding too. The RMs of Bifrost and Dauphin were responsible for the two largest crop increases last year, he said.

Varieties grown in western Manitoba and other areas tend to be different than the ones grown in the Red River Valley. According to Lange, producers in the Red River Valley have more flexibility with their planting options. The valley tends to hold more heat, has a longer growing season, and allows farmers the chance to grow varieties that are a little longer, and have more yield potential.

Producers must choose carefully when deciding which seeds to plant, said Lange.

“There’s nothing worse than growing a long-season variety that’s not suited for your region, and then you have problems in the fall with the beans not maturing.”

Saskatchewan acres

The attractiveness of the crop has meant further expansion into Saskatchewan.

Carl Potts, executive director of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers in Saskatoon, said year-over-year acreage of soybeans has been rising.

He estimated last year’s total of 160,000 to 180,000 acres planted could double.

Most of the crop is found in southeast Saskatchewan, along with a few areas south of Saskatoon.

Soybeans’ ability to handle wet weather, as felt in southeastern Saskatchewan over the past few years, is one of the reasons why the crop is growing in popularity, he said.

“If you’ve had a couple of years of wet conditions and had struggles with lentils for example, there may be some growers that are looking to move some of their lentil acres, or canola acres into soybeans.”

Net returns per acre are reasonably good for producers as long as they have a decent crop. Well-established global markets and relative ease of management are also factors that make them attractive to Saskatchewan producers, he said.

According to Lange, much of the beans’ success will depend on the month of September. There hasn’t been any significant frost in that month for the past couple of years, but that could always change.

— Dave Sims writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.


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