Soybeans, wheat and oats are the hot crops for 2011, say Manitoba seed growers. Barley, peas and sunflowers are not.
“Soybeans were the darlings this year,” Oak Lake seed grower Eric McLean told fellow growers attending the Manitoba Seed Growers’ Association’s annual meeting here Dec. 8. “Peas unfortunately bore the brunt of the ugliness. There were a lot of good harvesting conditions with soybeans, moderate to great yields with soybeans. Peas, while maintaining some good yields in some places just had some horrible harvesting issues along with them. Probably we could see our pea acres fall off a lot.”
Seed growers divided into four groups to discuss “what’s hot and what’s not,” and seed prices during their annual meeting.
Farmers at McLean’s table said a lot of seed grown in 2010 looks good visually, but has low germination. Seed growers should be sure their insurance for “errors and omissions” is paid up given the variability in seed quality, he said.
For the most part Manitoba barley crops didn’t fare well in 2010 and as a result, there’s likely to be fewer acres seeded in 2011, McLean said.
“It could tank in acres, but as seed producers should we be growing lots of barley so we can actually capture some good value next year?” McLean asked, adding that sometimes the contrarian view pays off. For example, this spring farmers weren’t much interested in seeding oats or flax, but those who did are getting high prices.
“You can’t really ignore the idea that if everyone is jumping one way that it’s not a bad idea to look the other,” he said.
“Sunflowers are probably going to be down next year (2011) because of the production issues they had this year getting them off in good shape – head rot issues, things like that.”
Kane and Glenn, two new Canada Western Red Spring wheats, did well in 2010, McLean said. But old high-protein varieties such as AC Barrie and Domain remain popular, he added.
Another relatively new wheat, Waskada, didn’t do that well in 2010 and farmers don’t seem willing to pay for the added value of midge-tolerant wheats, he said.
When it comes to setting seed prices, growers need to follow market prices, including the Canadian Wheat Board’s (CWB) Pool Return Outlook and be sure to compensate themselves for the extra cost of producing quality pedigreed seed, McLean said.
His message was echoed by fellow seed grower Rick Friesen from the Morris area.
“As a seed grower give yourself a fair chance for growing the seed,” he said. “You can’t do it for 25 cents a bushel.
“You got to know the tech fees, royalties fees and the cleaning costs and put those into your formula and then come up with a price.”
Many canola varieties and some types of soybeans are already sold out, Friesen said.
“Soybeanswerethe darlingsthisyear.Peas unfortunatelyborethe bruntoftheugliness.”
– ERIC MCLEAN
“Those prices are fixed… and those prices are high,” he said. “It is interesting to note that the tech fees or royalties fees that we pay Monsanto or whoever collects these royalties is very, very high. I don’t really hear too many people screaming about the price of canola seed or soybean seed.
“We don’t want to overprice cereal seed. We can’t. It doesn’t work, but the message to take is let’s not sell ourselves short.”
Barley is not a “hot” crop for 2011, especially in the Red River Valley, Friesen said. It’s too hard to produce barley in that area that’s low in DON, the toxin produced by fusarium head blight.
Soybeans did well in 2011, despite the excessively wet weather. As a result Manitoba farmers will increase soybean plantings to possibly 750,000 acres in 2011 (up from 520,000 this year), he said.
Domain-area grower Bob Wiens agreed farmers will seed more acres of wheat, oats, soybeans and canola this spring. Winter wheat plantings are down and pea seeding will decline too, he said.
Morris-area grower Brad Hamblin said there could be some opportunities for Manitoba seed growers to wholesale seed in certain pockets of Manitoba such as Warren and Boissevain and in Saskatchewan, where seed production was hindered by bad weather.
“The big question for most of our guys (at our discussion table) is, when is the bubble going to break?” Hamblin said. “We’re in a good market right now. Is it going to drop between now and seeding and how much should we try and sell now and how much should we lock in and how much do we think pricing will change?” [email protected]