Demand and prices are positive for peas — but seed is in short supply

There’s good money to be made in peas these days but producers such as Jason Hodsen 
are struggling to find sufficient supplies of seed

A small green and yellow pea crop in 2012 and increased demand is pushing old-crop prices to new heights this spring, while limiting the amount of available seed.

“There is a potential for a very strong market for the next few years,” Jackie Kress, senior grain manager for Legumex Walker, said at the recent Wild Oats Grainworld conference.

“It’s just a perfect storm for where the prices are right now.”

Yellow peas are averaging $8.75 per bushel and old-crop green peas are selling for as much as $16 per bushel. Green seed peas are reaching prices of $25 per bushel.

Some producers would like to increase their pea acres for 2013, but Kress said seed is in short supply.

“All the growers that we talk to who have grown green peas last year are going to be maxing out their acres with the seed available this year,” Kress said.

She said the seed shortage is most acute for green peas, but Jason Hodsen is struggling to find enough of the right variety of yellow pea seed.

“I wish I had more,” said the Virden-area farmer, who grows between 200 and 400 acres of yellow peas annually.

“My dilemma is I cannot get certified seed to increase my acres to help meet demand.”

Aside from good returns, the crop is also a good nitrogen fixer.

“For crop rotation purposes and for soil health, we wanted a legume that would have a different impact on the soil, rather than regular cereals or oilseeds,” Hodsen said.

Although the value chain for peas is well developed, he said he would like to see more research and development of the special crop.

Some is, said Kress, but it’s tough competing against crops such as canola and wheat for research dollars.

But she noted demand for special crops, such as peas and lentils, has increased by 65 per cent in the last decade.

“We have to take that into consideration and believe that, yes, the production is going to increase and demand is going to increase,” said Kress. “And we have to better utilize this, and better manage our positions.”

About the author

Reporter

Shannon VanRaes is a journalist and photojournalist at the Manitoba Co-operator. She also writes a weekly urban affairs column for Metro Winnipeg, and has previously reported for the Winnipeg Sun, Outwords Magazine and the Portage Daily Graphic.

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