Pea prices steady but questions loom over water damage

Green peas. (

CNS Canada –– Questions over quality could be the biggest factor facing pea farmers in Western Canada this year, as a wet summer has caused sprouting, staining and bleaching in crops near the Manitoba/Saskatchewan border.

“It was the rain after seeding that hurt us,” said Shannon Friesen, a regional crop specialist with the Saskatchewan government in Moose Jaw. “A good portion of our acres also had severe root rot, which has taken a toll on the yields that are out there.”

Most crops recovered from this damage; a few didn’t. According to Friesen, some crops are lodged and close to the ground, making them difficult to get off. Despite this, she said, a lot of the crop is still OK.

“Last week we asked about field pea quality and 71 per cent were estimated to fall within the top two quality grades,” she said.

As far as prices go, a director with the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers Association said values are holding their own.

“Looks like it’s fairly steady — about $6.50 (per bushel) for yellows and slightly more for greens,” said John Bennett of Biggar, Sask.

Prices were higher a year ago, he said. “Seems to me that off the combine last year I could get $7.75 for yellow peas.”

Bennett said he believes demand is good, but the market will be “hovering” until it gets a better indication of quality and quantity.

Fortunately, harvest weather has been warm and sunny this week (Sept. 22-26) across much of the Prairies.

The warm snap is about two weeks late, Friesen said, but producers will still take it.

“We’re coming pretty close to the end of the pea harvest; there’s still some acres out there but the majority are in the bin,” she said.

Saskatchewan’s harvest is more advanced in the province’s west, where it’s drier, said Friesen. However, some fields actually got too dry this year, leaving some pea casings cracked.

“As they went through the auger to the combine, from the truck to the bin, there’s been some damage to the seed coat that way,” she said.

Bennett also worries the wet conditions may have created disease pressures that haven’t yet come to light.

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

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