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Production outlook keeps canary seed under pressure

CNS Canada — Excess soil moisture is holding up planting of canary seed in Saskatchewan, though according to one market watcher, the overall production outlook for 2017 is good, leaving prices struggling to rise.

“Prices are soft,” said Kevin Hursh, executive director of the Canaryseed Development Commission of Saskatchewan.

Prices remain locked in the 19- to 21-cent range right now, at the lower end of what producers will accept, he said.

“I think the worry is that people are looking for alternatives so there’ll be more canary seed going in,” he said, adding that many durum producers don’t want to grapple with another year of fusarium.

While some producers have eliminated canary seed from their rotation because of the low prices, Hursh said there are always others looking to enter the market.

“It’ll be interesting to see where that all shakes out and what we do end up with for acreage,” he said.

According to Statistics Canada, canary seed area in 2017 is pegged at 270,000 acres, 10,000 more than the previous year.

Predicting minor-acreage crops is always a crapshoot, though, so yields are often the deciding factor in production, Hursh said.

Only 11 per cent of the crop in Saskatchewan was seeded so far, though, according to the latest data, he said.

Fortunately, he pointed out, canary seed can be planted reasonably late, so it probably won’t be affected by wetness as much as other crops. As long as the seeds go into the ground by June the crop has a decent chance.

However, Hursh noted, a lot of the canary seed that didn’t get harvested last spring is still out in farmers’ fields.

“That is weighing on the market a little bit,” he said, adding some of it is likely fit for sale.

Sporadic rain is also keeping some farmers off the field, especially in the northern grain belt, according to Hursh.

But the outlook is good, he added. “Things look OK; there are no threats to production.”

— Dave Sims writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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