Saskatchewan lentil crop projections raise skepticism


MarketsFarm — There’s a little skepticism towards Statistics Canada’s projections for this fall’s lentil crop in Saskatchewan.

The federal agency on Monday pegged the province’s 2020 lentil crop to come in at around 2.61 million tonnes on about 3.73 million acres. That’s almost a 26 per cent jump in production on a 13.2 per cent increase in harvested acres.

The numbers would put the province’s lentil crop at its second largest on record, behind 2.74 million tonnes harvested in 2016.

“It remains to be seen where yields really will be,” said Carl Potts, executive director of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers. “I think [yields] will be good on average or a bit above average, but not at Statistics Canada levels.”

Stating the agency’s numbers are “likely overestimated,” he said the summer heat, dryness, strong winds and disease likely have taken something of a toll on the province’s lentil crop.

Still, lentil production in Saskatchewan was up this year.

“Lentil prices had been stronger through the winter season and new-crop prices were looking stronger,” Potts said. “Farmers were looking at the market signals and responding to the higher prices.”

He estimated about 70 per cent of this year’s crop is red lentils, with large greens making up between 20 to 25 per cent and the rest being small greens.

At this time Potts couldn’t say if growers will produce a similar amount next year.

“It really comes down to what the market prices are at the time growers are making their planting decisions,” he said.

Saskatchewan growers produce the vast majority of Canada’s lentils. This year, that translates to almost 90 per cent of the 4.23 million planted acres in Canada and 4.15 million harvested acres, while bringing in about 85 per cent of 3.06 million tonnes produced.

— Glen Hallick reports for MarketsFarm from Winnipeg.

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