Canary seed competing with other crops on the rise

'There's a fight for acreage'

(Photo courtesy Canary Seed Development Commission of Saskatchewan)

MarketsFarm — During the fall of 2020, canary seed crossed above the 30 cents per pound mark — where it’s currently staying. And those who work with the crop expect its price to remain above that mark this year.

David Nobbs, pulse merchant for Purely Canada Foods at Saskatoon and former chair of the Canary Seed Development Commission of Saskatchewan, said the domestic supply of canary seed should mostly run out by the end of July, two months before harvest.

He added, though, that the price of canary seed is having difficulty standing out against other high-performing crops such as barley, canola and yellow peas.

“There’s a fight for acreage and we’re not getting new growers coming back to canary seed the way I thought we would and I think we’re going to continue to inch higher on new-crop prices,” Nobbs said.

“I think we’re going to see another firm year all the way through the next crop year, 30-plus cents…I think we’re going to see a 32- to 34-cent price from now until fall.”

According to Prairie Ag Hotwire data from Tuesday, high-delivered bids for canary seed were 32.5 cents/lb., down 0.5 cents from last month but an increase of 2.5 cents from last year.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s latest outlook from this month projected 296,500 acres to be seeded for canary seed, mostly in Saskatchewan, which would produce 170,000 tonnes. These numbers represent increases of eight per cent and 5.5 per cent from the year before, respectively.

Nobbs has often questioned forecasts from Ottawa, but agrees with them this time around.

“(The forecast) is probably similar to last year. Maybe (seeding numbers go) up marginally,” he said. “The problem is we need new growers to come in and switch from these other crops this year.”

CSDCS chair Kevin Hursh reiterated Nobbs’ assessment that the seed is competing against other crops, while adding that this year’s production could go either way.

“It might be a reasonable thing to suggest a small increase in canary seed, given the current environment, but I don’t think anyone knows how this is going to pan out,” he said.

— Adam Peleshaty reports for MarketsFarm from Winnipeg.

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