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Pulse Market Insight - SEP 1 2023

Low Pulse Yields from StatsCan

It’s been clear for a while that 2023 pulse yields were suffering. The key question though, is how low they would go. We got the first indication of that from StatsCan at the end of August, and it’s not pretty. We had been cutting our yield estimates as crop conditions got worse this summer, but the StatsCan yields were lower still.

As a bit of background, StatsCan’s August and September estimates are based on a computer model that uses satellite vegetation images, while its December report is based on a large farmer survey. This first report isn’t the last word for the 2023 crop.

The StatsCan production estimate for peas came in at 2.19 mln tonnes, slightly smaller than the 2021 crop. The combination of a 10% drop in seeded area and a yield of 27.1 bu/acre (22% below average) resulted in a crop that’s the smallest since 2003/04. We also know from StatsCan’s June acreage estimates that seeded area of green peas shrunk more than yellows, which means that portion of the pea crop will drop even harder.

We were already expecting lower pea supplies for 2023/24, but plugging in these StatsCan production numbers makes things even tighter. Exports will be forced to drop to 1.9 mln tonnes, the same as in the 2021/22 drought year. This year, there will be Russian competition for yellow pea exports which could limit how much upside is possible, but the green pea market will be squeezed very tightly.

It’s a similar picture for the 2023 lentil crop. Seeded area was cut back by 15% this spring and the yield was estimated at just over 1,000 pounds (16.9 bushels) per acre, 20% less than average. The result is a 2023 lentil crop of 1.66 mln tonnes, down 31% from last year and only slightly better than 2021. The StatsCan acreage data showed a much sharper cut to red lentil seeded area, which means that part of the market will face tighter supplies.

This small lentil crop means 2023/24 export potential will be seriously restricted. Supplies would only be large enough for 1.45 mln tonnes of exports, 150,000 tonnes less than 2021/22. There have been a number of shifts in demand from Canada’s traditional red lentil importers but that part of the market will still be very tight. Green lentil demand tends to be very steady no matter what, but will still feel the squeeze on supplies.

StatsCan showed very low yields for chickpeas in 2023 at 954 lb/acre, not much better than 2021. Seeded area for chickpeas was up 35% from last year but the drop in yields was more than enough to keep production low. The 2023 crop was pegged at 133,000 tonnes. According to StatsCan, that’s actually up slightly from 2022, but there’s a chance last year’s crop was underreported. Regardless, this small and 2023 crop won’t be large enough to meet regular market demand, which should be friendly for prices.

Pulse Market Insight provides market commentary from Chuck Penner of LeftField Commodity Research to help with pulse marketing decisions.

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