Southeastern Sask. lentil seeding in doubt

Lentil acreage in southeastern Saskatchewan may be smaller than anticipated, as below-average planting conditions continue to hit the region.

A late winter and extremely wet spring have provided problems for some farmers, who are now at the point where they must decide if they can get all of their seeds into the ground.

“There are a lot of people making that decision right now,” said Shawn Madsen, operations manager for Southland Pulse at Estevan, Sask. “We had another quarter of an inch of rain last week. I think every day they have a little hope that they can seed, and just when it dries up, they get hammered again. They’re on the verge right now of making a decision not to seed.”

According to Madsen, 85 to 90 per cent of seeding is completed in the area, but it’s unsure how much of the remaining seeding is made up of lentils.

“It’s only a guess at this point,” he said. “I really don’t know if some farmers did their lentils first or last this year. Typically your peas and lentils go in first, but this year I had people say that they might wait and plant them last.”

If farmers did wait until June to plant lentils, yield losses are not out of the question because of the hot weather expected during July.

“Everyone in the past has said their best crops in pulses are the earliest ones, because we expect heat in June and July,” Madsen said. “When you get them in earlier, they seem to advance enough and can take the heat; but if they are just poking out of the ground and it turns hot, you can definitely see some yield loss.”

Despite problems in the south, lentil seeding across the rest of the province has been much smoother and is near completion, said Bobby Leavins, operations manager for Rayglen Commodities in Saskatoon.

According to Statistics Canada, lentil acreage this season has dropped to just over two million acres from 2.5 million last season.

However, Leavins said he expects the actual number to be higher than what was forecast by Statistics Canada.

“The trade is inclined to believe acreage is at 2.3 or 2.4 million acres,” Leavins said. “Some late acres went in with that price spike we’ve seen just prior to seeding.”

The spike in prices was due to an underwhelming red lentil crop in Canada’s biggest red lentil importer, India.

Prices for red lentils are currently up 1.5 cents per pound from June 10 to sit at 26 cents per pound, according to Prairie Ag Hotwire.

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

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