Mustard growers face decision time

AAFC projects more acres in 2021-22

MarketsFarm — For Canadian mustard seed growers, next month will be crucial in learning whether seeding predictions from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada come to fruition.

Current mustard seed prices, though, seem to support a rise in the number of acres this coming crop year.

Canadian farmers in 2020 grew 99,000 tonnes of mustard seed, the lowest output since 1984, on 257,000 acres according to Statistics Canada. Prairie Ag Hotwire data from Wednesday showed high-delivered bids for brown mustard at 38.5 cents/lb., up 9.5 cents from a year earlier.

Similarly, high-delivered bids for oriental mustard have been at 33 cents/lb., seven cents higher than last year at this time. Yellow mustard is up three cents on the year at 42 cents/lb.

Walter Dyck, general manager in Alberta for Wisconsin-based Olds Products, explained that higher yields in 2019 resulted in lower prices and fewer seeded acres in 2020.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada projects 395,000 acres for mustard in 2021-22 and with prices on the upswing, the time to grow mustard seed could be now.

“As a result, we’re… needing some acres to go back into the ground,” Dyck said, adding that there hasn’t been a “wave of interest” in mustard this year.

“Mustard has had those years where it has looked interesting up against other commodities such as canola or flax, but this doesn’t appear to be one of those years, at least not now.”

With current prices, Dyck added, there is still time for a turnaround.

“In the past, what has really helped it is a projection for a high spot price and this could be the year. So, probably in March, some of those decisions would be made by those growers whether to jump in and put some mustard in the ground,” he said.

Derek Dewar, chair of the Saskatchewan Mustard Development Commission, expects growers to take their time before making those decisions, in order to chase the “elusive profit.

“A lot of last-minute decisions were made last year and I expect it to be the case this year,” he said. “I think most farmers are sitting, more or less, ready to go in whatever direction appears to be the choice for the time.”

— Adam Peleshaty reports for MarketsFarm from Stonewall, Man.

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