Hot weather cuts into Canadian mustard crop

Price increases already noted

(JohnnyMad/Getty Images)

MarketsFarm — Canada is looking at another small mustard crop in 2021, which should keep prices well supported for any unpriced crop, as recent heat stress cut into yields.

“That was a very rough week,” said Walter Dyck, the Alberta-based general manager with Wisconsin mustard-processor Olds Products, on the late June/early July heat wave that hit much of Western Canada. “It couldn’t have happened at a worse time.”

While there could still be some surprises at harvest time, Dyck expected yields would at best be at the low end of average this year. Plants were smaller to begin with due to a lack of subsoil moisture and wind early on.

In addition, total acres were relatively small, which “all adds up to a pretty bullish situation,” according to Dyck.

Mustard plants that might usually have eight to 10 seeds in a pod were only getting four to six this year, he said. While timely rains could still help fill those seeds, the overall damage has already been done.

Canadian farmers seeded 305,500 acres of mustard this spring, according to Statistics Canada data. While that would be up by about 50,000 acres from the previous year, it still represents one of the five-smallest acreage bases to the crop of the past four decades and comes in about 100,000 acres below the five-year average (2016-2020).

Prices are higher already, with bids for both old and new crop yellow mustard topping out at 50 cents/lb., according to Prairie Ag Hotwire data.

Dyck noted there wasn’t much unpriced mustard out there, with much of it tied to contracts — but added that there were still growers sitting on sizeable stocks that would be looking to market this year.

“It will be one of those years where the spot price moves higher,” he said, adding “there’s not enough mustard coming from Canada to meet the demand.”

As far as that demand goes, the easing of pandemic restrictions across North America should lead to increased mustard demand from restaurants, ball parks and other food services.

However, grocery uptake was significant in 2020, and that might go down a bit this year, keeping the overall demand relatively stable.

— Phil Franz-Warkentin reports for MarketsFarm from Winnipeg.

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