Mustard area remains a question mark for 2019

MarketsFarm –– As the world’s largest producer of mustard seed, Canada exported 112,000 tonnes in 2017-18 — and the jury is out on whether mustard acreage will rise, fall or hold this spring.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s outlook for principal field crops, published Thursday, called for mustard acreage to remain the same as in previous years, about 3.8 million acres.

The 2018 crop year saw a significant uptick in mustard acreage compared to previous years, due to attractively priced contracts.

Kevin Hursh, executive director of the Saskatchewan Mustard Development Commission, expects to see acreage decrease, based on softening contract prices.

“In 2017 we had smaller acreage and yields weren’t great either, causing prices to go up for 2018 year,” Hursh said. “Those crop prices were very attractive.”

Mustard seed is often thought of as a high-margin, economically savvy crop. However, crop prices are much less attractive for 2019 due to inventory surplus from previous years.

In 2018, brown mustard was contracted at 38 cents/lb. Today, contracts are currently priced at 36 cents per pound for yellow mustard seed, 27 cents for oriental and 30 cents for brown.

“That’s a significant drop,” said Hursh. “That’s $4 per bushel lower than the 2018 (brown mustard) contract.”

Growing uncertainties about the future of canola markets could push acreage numbers higher, as some growers decide to forgo canola in favour of a more predictable crop.

China, previously the world’s largest importer of Canadian canola, is reported to have ceased all imports of Canadian canola seed as a part of an ongoing trade dispute.

“I wonder if a small amount of canola acreage might shift to mustard, where the land is applicable,” Hursh mused.

— Marlo Glass writes for MarketsFarm, a Glacier FarmMedia division specializing in grain and commodity market analysis and reporting.

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