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Pulse Market Insight #255 JUL 5 2024 | Producers | Pulse Market Insights

North American Pulse Acres on the Rise

Last week, both StatsCan and the USDA released updates to their 2024 acreage estimates. Previous reports were issued back in March and these latest numbers should be closer to reality. In the lead-up to seeding, pulse prices had been outperforming other crops which appeared to shift a few more acres in that direction for both Canada and US farmers.

In Canada, StatsCan bumped up its seeded area to just over 3.2 mln acres. While that’s 5% more than last year, it’s still not huge acreage compared to prior years, with the 5-year average closer to 3.8 mln acres. On its own, this acreage base wouldn’t translate into a much bigger crop but as we mentioned in the last Pulse Market Insight, the yield outcome is a much bigger deal. We know there’s been a lot of turbulent weather in the last week or two but for now, we’re using the pre-2021 average yield of 38.9 bu/acre which would result in a 3.3 mln tonne crop, 28% more than last year.

Just as important (or even more so) is the breakdown of acres by type. StatsCan showed a 38% increase in seeded area of green peas but at 464,000 acres, it’s still toward the lower end of recent history. There’s a much larger 72% jump reported for acreage of “other” types of peas but caution is advised with estimates for these smaller classes. Meanwhile, StatsCan reported that seeded area of yellow peas would actually decline 1% compared to last year.

In the US, seeded area of peas was bumped up by the USDA to 1.03 mln acres, 7% more than last year and the largest acreage base since 2019. The USDA doesn’t provide a breakdown by type, but we would expect some shift toward greens, likely 35% of the total. Conditions there are mostly favourable too.

StatsCan’s estimate of 2024 lentil acreage was also raised from its earlier report, now at 4.2 mln acres, 15% more than last year. While that’s a solid bounce from last year’s low, this lentil area certainly isn’t huge. If there are gains in production, much of that would come from a recovery in yields. Heavy rains recently have added a lot more uncertainty for lentils but for now, we’ll use the pre-2021 average of 1,360 pounds (22.7 bushels) per acre, which would mean a 53% increase in the 2024 crop.

Just like peas, the acreage breakdown by type is very important for lentils. As expected, the strong price signals for green lentils caused a larger increase for those types, with large green acreage up 24% and small greens expanding 28% from last year. Seeded area of red lentils was also higher than last year but the gains were more modest at 11%.

South of the border, there was a much larger increase in lentil acreage. The USDA reported lentil area at 856,000 acres, 57% more than last year and the most since 2017. Keep in mind, roughly three-quarters of US lentils are medium greens, which will weigh more heavily on that portion of the market. There will be little if any impact on red lentils.

Other pulses also saw sizable acreage increases. In Canada, seeded area of chickpeas was reported at 454,000 acres, 44% more than last year and the most since 2002/03. That said, seeding delays may have trimmed a few acres from the total. The USDA showed US farmers planting 502,000 acres of chickpeas, up 35% from last year.

Seeded area of dry beans in Canada was reported by StatsCan at 371,000 acres, 17% more than last year, but that could be on the low side. In the US, dry bean plantings were reported at 1.36 mln acres, up 15% from 2023.

The one exception to increased pulse acreage seems to be fababeans in Canada. StatsCan reported seeded area at 81,000 acres, down 12% from last year.

Pulse Market Insight provides market commentary from Chuck Penner of LeftField Commodity Research to help with pulse marketing decisions.