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Pulse Crops A Popular Option

Canadian farmers will devote more acres this year to pulse crops such as lentils, because big global supplies of wheat have hit prospects for the country’s biggest crop while uncertainty overhangs canola.

There’s more uncertainty than usual this year, because a late harvest kept many farmers from preparing land for the new crop, said Ken Ball, a futures and options broker with Union Securities in Winnipeg.

Farmers will grow a lot less durum wheat and slightly fewer acres of spring wheat for an all -wheat crop of 24 million tonnes, down from last year’s 26.5 million, according to the Canadian Wheat Board.

FLAX UNATTRACTIVE

The safest bet is pulse crops, such as various types of beans and peas.

“Lentils have had a couple or three years (of) absolutely phenomenal returns per acre,” said Ron Frost, an analyst with Agri-Trend Marketing in Alberta.

Acreage of pulse crops could jump 10 to 20 per cent this spring, Frost said.

WILD CARD CROPS

Oat supply and demand factors look better for 2010. Dan Caron, a business development specialist with the Manitoba government, expects to see more oat acres from Manitoba into northern Saskatchewan as the calculation of price, cost and yields add up to profit.

Many farmers appear ready to take a year off from canola to let the soil’s nutrients recharge, said Greg Marshall, president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan.

But farmers also noticed the crop’s resiliency in bad weather last summer.

Caron sees record canola planting as high as 17 million acres if there’s any sign of a breakthrough on trade barriers.

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