Sask. farmers could hold lentils until prices strengthen

Saskatchewan farmers are in the early stages of harvesting lentils — but with prices already starting to taper off, comes some speculation growers will hold off on selling lentils until the market strengthens, according to Shawn Madsen, operations manager for Southland Pulse.

“Prices have been moving south,” he said. “It seems there is little demand on greens. I’ve been getting some calls for reds, but the price has been going down every time a buyer calls me.”

Madsen, based at Estevan, Sask., said some of the downward movement is due to harvest pressure, before adding that weakness in the rupee and an expected large Indian pulse crop added to the bearish tone.

“I really don’t see farmers interested at these lower levels,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of lentils on the books and that’s the main reason. It’s not attractive enough for them to let anything go unless they absolutely have to. Prices are not enticing at all.”

“It looks to me if they can, farmers will possibly sell something else and hold onto their lentils for now,” he added.

According to Prairie Ag Hotwire’s prices for Thursday, FOB farm green lentils are topping out a 21 cents a pound, while FOB farm red lentils are as high as 20 cents a pound.

With favourable weather forecast for much of the Prairies this week, Madsen said he doesn’t see anything that would start a rally in prices.

“The long-range forecast looks pretty favourable to get stuff done, and there’s no frost in the forecast either,” he said. “Maybe there will be a bottom somewhere, but I don’t know where it is.”

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

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