High carryout, lower exports and a world “awash” in feed grains are weighing heavily on Canadian pea prices. $6 will be a good price over the next few months

Speakers in the pea marketing panel at the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers meeting at Crop Week this month said if you can get $6 per bushel, you might want to take it. “If you can find someone who will pay $6 for your peas, it might not be a bad idea to let them go,” says Daniel Holman of North West Terminal. Carsten Bredin of Richardson International sees prices dropping instead of rising. “Prices will drift lower, not to $4, but closer to the lower end of $5,” he predicts. In addition to the global credit crisis, which has affected some sales, Western Canadian pea growers harvested a big crop — 3.5 million tonnes. That means a big carryout.

Bredin pegs carryout at 941,000 tonnes for 2008-09, up from 255,000 in 2007-08. And exports are 21 per cent behind last year’s pace, he adds. He expects wheat and canola to take acres from peas in 2009. He forecasts a five to 10 per cent drop in pea acres.

Greg Kostal of Kostal Ag Consulting says a 3.0-million-tonne production estimate for 2009 is “not unreasonable.”

Selling into the feed market to move more peas will be difficult. “The world is awash in feed grain. There will be 40 million tonnes of wheat exported from Russia and Ukraine into Europe, which will kill any opportunity to sell feed peas into Europe,” Bredin says.

Holman reminded farmers to ask around for different prices, especially if they’re selling into the domestic feed market. “Feed bids are variable depending on how peas fit into a mill’s ration. You could find a 50 to 60 cents per bushel difference between mills.”

Jay Whetter is the editor of Grainews.

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