The outlook for Canada’s 2022 pulse crops: Acreages are down but production set to increase on last year

In this report, Dario Bard speaks to members of the Canadian pulse industry for an overview of the 2022 crop, touching on acreages, production estimates and price as well as the factors currently affecting the region.

Dario Bard

By Dario Bard - Reporter Website

The outlook for Canada’s 2022 pulse crops: Acreages are down but production set to increase on last year

Lentil crops in Saskatchewan. Photo courtesy of the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers.

This crop year, producers in Western Canada are looking to bounce back from the devastating drought of 2021. Last growing season, hot and dry conditions across the prairies knocked down yields to lows not seen in at least a decade. At the national level, wheat yields, for instance, fell off 33% on the year. Canola, barley and oats were down 35%, 39% and 32% respectively. Pulses were a similar story with pea and lentil yields dropping by 44% and chickpeas by 42%.

For the 2022 crop year, Statistics Canada estimates the lentil area to be up slightly on the year, to 4,319,600 acres. The seeded area for other pulse crops, however, is estimated to fall off from last year. Dry pea acres are estimated to drop nearly 12% to 3,368,100 acres, chickpea acres will likely fall 4% to 177,000 acres and dry bean acres are expected to see the biggest drop of 32% from last year, to 297,000 acres. 

To get a handle on how 2022 pulse crops are coming along, we reached out to the Canadian Special Crops Association (CSCA) for the national perspective and Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG) for a sense of how things look on the ground in the country’s major pulse-producing province: according to the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, in 2022 Saskatchewan is expected to account for 89% of the lentil area, 52% of the dry pea area and the majority of the chickpea area.  

PULSE CROP

2021

2022

Dry Beans

437,400

297,000

Chickpeas

185,500

177,800

Lentils

4,303,300

4,319,600

Dry Peas

3,819,500

3,368,100


Seeded Area Estimates for Canada’s 2022 Pulse Crops. Source:
Statistics Canada, July 5 report

 

Explaining the fall in acreages

The decrease in pulse acreages this season was driven primarily by current market conditions. Prices for all crops were strong heading into this year’s planting season, which gave growers plenty of options to choose from and the opportunity to diversify their crop rotations. Pulses, especially peas, faced stiff competition from other crops such as wheat, which performed better than peas in MY 2021-22 as the production of the latter struggled with root rot issues (the adverse consequence of being seeded too often for too long in a crop rotation). The decrease in the pulse area would likely have been even more pronounced if it hadn't been for high fertilizer prices eroding the profit margins of competing crops. 

In Canada, pulse crops are typically sown from April to early June. This planting season, growers contended with extreme weather conditions, with some areas of the western prairies seeing dry conditions and others excess moisture. According to the CSCA, the excess moisture in early spring mainly impacted the seeding of dry pea crops. 

“Because of planting delays due to the excess moisture, some analysts suggest that as many as 300,000 acres of dry peas were either not planted or switched to other crops,” says Greg Northey of the CSCA, adding that these losses may not be reflected in Statistics Canada’s numbers for the month of June. 

In Saskatchewan, excess moisture delayed planting by a couple of weeks, especially in the eastern part of the province. As a result, SPG indicates a larger-than-normal proportion of pulse crops were seeded towards the end of the planting window.


Crop conditions still unclear

Following the seeding of the crops, much of the pulse-growing region benefitted from widespread rainfall and relatively warm weather. 

“There are still areas struggling with excess moisture and yellowing crops,” says Northey, “but others welcomed the rain because it has helped crops recover from dry conditions.”

SPG Executive Director Carl Potts notes that in Western Saskatchewan, where proportionally more of the province’s pulses are grown, some areas remain dry and growers are anticipating below average yields. 

As of the end of June, the Saskatchewan Department of Agriculture reports that 69% of the province’s pulse crops are at their normal stage of development, with 30% of the crop behind schedule and 1% ahead of schedule. 

“Because of the late planting, crops are a little bit behind but it’s important to keep in mind that pulses are a short season crop,” says Potts. “We normally harvest peas and, to a certain degree, lentils earlier than most other crops. I don’t have any concerns about the ability to get those crops to the bin in the fall.” 

Saskatchewan pea and lentil crops are normally harvested in August and September, followed by chickpea and dry bean (mainly faba bean) crops from September to early October.

Usually, Canadian growers forward contract a portion of their crops, including pulses. But this year, Potts observes, they have been hesitant to enter into such arrangements. 

“Last year, because of the drought, some producers were unable to fulfill their forward contract commitments,” explains Potts. “That cost them a lot of money. I think they will forward contract once they have greater certainty about what their actual realized yields will be.”

In recent weeks, grower prices on pulses have softened, a sign, says Potts, of growing confidence in the market now that the new crop has been planted and there have been some good rains. 

However, he cautions, the wet conditions could potentially lead to the emergence of soil-borne and foliar diseases.

“It remains to be seen how significant those issues are going to be. Those will be known as we get a little bit closer to harvest,” he concludes.

 

Market Outlook

Canada heads into MY 2022-23 with low carryover on pulses. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s June report forecasts a carryover of 150,000 MT for peas, 250,000 MT for lentils, 160,000 MT for dry beans and 150,000 MT for chickpeas. 

“We are seeing strong old crop prices for pulses, which tends to imply there is a shortage and limited supplies available,” says Potts. “That isn’t surprising given the yield reductions we saw last year.”

Market analysis firm Mercantile Consulting Venture projects Canada’s 2022 dry pea production at 3.4 million MT, a 48% increase from last year’s crop, and its lentil production at 2.5 million MT, a 57% increase from last year. The CSCA estimates 2022 bean production at 285,000 MT.   

Further, the CSCA expects red lentils to make up 74% of the 2022 lentil crop, with the remainder comprised of large green lentils (18%), small green lentils (7%) and medium green lentils (1%). On dry peas, the CSCA projects yellow peas will make up 85% of production, green peas 14% and other pea types 1%. On chickpeas, the SPG indicates about 95% of Canada’s crop is typically of the kabuli type and 5% of the desi type. 

At the CSCA, Northey anticipates the increased production will allow Canada’s lentil export program to rebound from last year’s drought-stricken crop. 

“Over the last few years, India has returned as Canada’s top export destination for lentils after several years of restricting imports, and demand remains strong in other markets like Turkey and the UAE,” he says. He cautions, however, that India’s lentil import policy may change in September and possibly impact Canada’s export program.

Pea exports, on the other hand, will likely be more modest in 2022 as China continues to diversify its sourcing and world pea prices remain high for other traditional Asian markets. 

“Because pulse prices are comparatively lower than the prices of other staple grains, pulse consumption will likely increase in markets like India,” explains Northey. “However, India’s continued use of unjustified import restrictions keeps peas from all origins from entering the country.” 

Fortunately for Canada, there continues to be investment and expansion in domestic pea processing capacity. In April, Global Food and Ingredients announced the completion of a new pea splitting facility at its plant-based ingredient processing complex in Saskatchewan. Ingredion, Roquette and Merit Foods are a few of the other companies also processing plant-based ingredients in western Canada. 

“As global demand for sustainably-grown plant-based protein continues to increase, so will the market stability and profitability for Canadian-grown pulses,” says Northey.

Potts sees Canada’s pulse industry following in the footsteps of the canola industry, which processes 50% of its production domestically and aims to increase that volume to 75%.

“We have similar ambitions in pulses to move to more value-added processing. We are well on that track but still have a way to go to have 25 to 50% of our domestic production go into ingredient processing here within Canada,” he says.

For now, Canada’s pulse industry continues to rely primarily on exports. And, although the international demand is there, pulse traders will have to contend with the supply chain issues that have been the bane of exporters everywhere. 

“Container availability has been an issue for the global trade in pulses,” says Potts. “Its not a problem unique to Canada but, as the largest exporter of pulses, and given that a significant portion of our trade moves in containers, we worry about how that impacts our competitiveness and our ability to supply customers.”

With the war in Ukraine and global inflation further complicating matters and adding volatility to world markets, Marlene Boersch at Mercantile Consulting Venture warns that vetting FOB prices is extremely difficult and that the following values should be “taken with a grain of salt”, especially as Canada’s pulse industry is transitioning from old to new crop. With these caveats, Boersch pegs current crop yellow peas at $420/MT Vancouver, with new crop yellow peas at $425. Old and new crop green lentils are similarly priced. Based on inland prices, she estimates bulk FOB red lentil prices at $715/MT.  

GPC Members Invited to the Pulse & Special Crops Convention

From September 20-22, the CSCA will be hosting the Pulse & Special Crops Convention, North America’s largest pulse industry event. This year, the event is being held in Niagara Falls.

The Pulse & Special Crops Convention brings together hundreds of industry leaders, exporters and buyers from around the globe to network, discuss industry-wide challenges and grow their businesses.

“We are greatly looking forward to welcoming GPC members from around the world to Niagara Falls, Canada in September for the 2022 convention,” says Northey.

“After being off because of COVID for a couple of years, we are really excited about once again connecting with customers and buyers from around the world, and hope to see GPC members there,” adds Potts.

Both the CSCA and the SPG see a bright future for Canadian pulses, given strong demand from traditional markets and the growing trend in plant-based protein. The industry is also investing heavily in research and development to ensure that Canadian pulses remain an attractive crop option for producers and thus help preserve Canada’s standing as the world’s leading pulse exporter.

To learn more about this year’s Pulse & Special Crops Convention, visit the event’s website at: https://pulseandspecialcropsconvention.com/ 

 

The outlook for Canada’s 2022 pulse crops: Acreages are down but production set to increase on last year
The outlook for Canada’s 2022 pulse crops: Acreages are down but production set to increase on last year
The outlook for Canada’s 2022 pulse crops: Acreages are down but production set to increase on last year

TAGS
Canadian pulse industry / 2022 crop / acreages / production estimates / price / Saskatchewan / pea / lentil / chickpeas / Statistics Canada / dry bean / Canadian Special Crops Association / Saskatchewan Pulse Growers


Disclaimer: The opinions or views expressed in this publication are those of the authors or quoted persons. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Global Pulse Confederation or its members.