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Jury Remains out on Saskatchewan Lentil Crop

Saskatchewan may produce a larger lentil crop this year compared to 2019, but the jury remains out on exactly how much larger.
 
In its updated crop production estimates released earlier this week, StatsCan pegged the province’s 2020 lentil crop at 2.61 million tonnes, up 26% from a year ago and potentially the second largest output on record for the province, behind only the 2016 crop of 2.74 million tonnes.
 
Although a larger harvested area is expected – up about 13% from a year earlier to 3.73 million acres – StatsCan is also forecasting an approximately 11% increase in the average yield to 1,538 lbs/acre from 1,383 lbs in 2019.
 
Carl Potts, executive director of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, admitted he is skeptical of the yield projection. “It remains to be seen where yields really will be. 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,” Potts said the summer heat, dryness, strong winds and disease likely took a toll on the province’s lentil crop.
 
Still, the StatsCan estimate is generally in line with the Saskatchewan government’s lentil yield estimate of 1,548 lbs, released as part of its Sept. 10 crop report.
 
Regardless of the actual final yield, Potts said lentils were an attractive option for Saskatchewan farmers this year. “Lentil prices had been stronger through the winter season and new crop prices were looking stronger. Farmers were looking at the market signals and responding to the higher prices,” he said.
 
Potts estimated that about 70% of this year’s crop is Red lentils, with Large Greens making up between 20 to 25% and the rest being Small Greens.
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