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2014 Pulse Acreage Projections (PCN Spring 2014) MAY 5 2014 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News

This article appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Pulse Crop News.

Chuck Penner, Leftfield Commodity Research

Now that nearly all the planting decisions have been made for 2014, we’re going to toss out some acreage forecasts and see what the implications could be. Of course, we write this knowing that StatsCan will be releasing its first survey-based estimates later in April.

Even though there is general agreement about the direction of the acreage changes, it’s also clear there are differing opinions about the size of the shifts. Readers should know that my typical bias is to be conservative in my acreage forecasts. It’s easy to get carried away by the “everybody’s planting X” or “nobody’s planting Y”, but experience has shown the anecdotal reports are often overstated. With that disclaimer, let’s get started.

We’re forecasting 2014 pea acreage to rise 16% to 3.8 million acres. That’s the most acres since 2008 and at the high end of recent years. Some people are expecting closer to 4.0 million acres and we can’t argue with that number either. When it comes to green peas, we’re forecasting a larger increase with possibly over 600,000 acres planted to greens this spring. Yellows will see a solid increase but not as much.

Despite the increase in acres, the 2014 pea crop could actually end up smaller than last year if yields return to the 5-year average of 36.3 bu/acre. And at this stage of the year, the best odds are for an average yield. A 3.6 million tonne crop would mean comfortable supplies for 2014/15, but not overly burdensome. There’s a little more danger of heavy supplies for greens.

Lots of people are talking about growing lentils this year, and most of the interest seems to be in reds. As a result, we’ve forecast a 21% increase in lentil acreage, with the vast majority of the increase going into red lentils. At 2.9 million acres, it would be the secondlargest acreage ever, while others are suggesting over 3.0 million acres are possible. Just like with peas, a return to average yields would offset the acreage increase and the 2014 lentil crop could potentially end up smaller than last year’s.

It’s a good thing that most of the acreage increase will go to red lentils, since that seems to be the strongest part of the global market right now. Based on the way 2013/14 exports are shaping up, we won’t be carrying a lot of lentils (particularly reds) into 2014/15 and that will keep next year’s supplies from becoming too heavy.

Forecasting chickpea acres is a bit of a shot in the dark. Even though posted bids are still profitable, farmers have experienced limited movement of chickpeas the last couple of years and that could discourage some plantings. Given that disclaimer, we’re projecting 2014 chickpea seeded area to drop by nearly one-quarter, to 150,000 acres. Even with that decline, North American chickpea supplies are still comfortable, and a smaller crop will provide only limited support for prices in 2014/15.

Dry bean seeded area will very likely expand. We are expecting acres to go up 23% to 335,000 acres, a similar sized increase to what the USDA just announced for south of the border. The largest gains will likely be seen for white beans, and that’s a good thing since that’s where the world market is the strongest. The carryover from the current marketing year will be very low so more acres won’t result in a burdensome supply situation.

As with most projections they are based upon the best information at hand at the time. Please note that StatsCan estimates will be published April 24, 2014.

Chuck Penner is the founder of LeftField Commodity Research. Chuck provides a bi-weekly report called Pulse Market Insight which is published by the Alberta Pulse Growers Commission through an electronic publication called Pulse Check. Growers can subscribe to it by contacting Funding for Pulse Market Insight is provided by the Government of Alberta through the Growing Forward 2 a federal, provincial, territorial partnership.