Glacier FarmMedia COVID-19 & the Farm

Pulse weekly outlook: Sector hopes for more fababeans

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CNS Canada — While Statistics Canada is predicting a drop in fababean acres this year, an agronomist with Saskatchewan Pulse Growers hopes that isn’t the case.

“We had about 50,000 acres for the last three years here in Saskatchewan. And we’re thinking that we’ll be maybe slightly below that,” said SPG agronomy manager Sherrilyn Phelps.

StatsCan is predicting fababean acres to drop this year to 82,500, from 95,000, according to its principal field crop areas report released April 27. In Saskatchewan, acres are predicted to fall to 37,500, from 60,000, while fababean acres in Alberta are predicted to rise to 45,000, from 35,000.

Phelps is hoping to see closer to 50,000 acres planted in Saskatchewan, but it will depend on the spring weather. Growers in the province’s northeast, which is wetter and therefore better suited for fababeans, have been able to start seeding, which is ahead of schedule compared to years past.

“Moisture in a large part of the province is a bit limited, but in the areas where you would typically see more suitability for fababeans they are sitting OK. And areas like the northeast, they’re starting to go in.”

Fababeans are mostly sold for animal feed as they have a higher protein level than other pulse crops used for feed grains such as yellow peas. However, fababeans have had trouble catching on as a major feed source as acres fluctuate too much year-to-year to offer a consistent supply.

One feed grain marketing company contacted by Commodity News Service Canada said it buys fababeans for feed, but not regularly.

There has been interest from companies trying to sell fababeans for alternative uses, Phelps said, such as fractionation and fish feed.

“Those aren’t really developed yet. So if we can maintain some fababean acres over the next couple of years, hopefully it will drive further development on the marketing side.”

Prices for fababeans have also been flat lately; however, the feed benchmark price has been on the rise, according to information from Alberta Pulse Growers and Saskatchewan Pulse Growers. The feed benchmark price is an estimate of the feed value of fababeans in Western Canada, based on the price of competing feed ingredients.

In central Alberta the fababean feed benchmark price is currently at $399.99 per tonne, compared to $398.90 per tonne in central Saskatchewan and $349.90 per tonne in southern Manitoba. At the start of January, it was at $261.03 per tonne in central Alberta, $283.05 in central Saskatchewan and $256.38 in southern Manitoba.

For producers, however, fababean prices haven’t seen as much movement. According to Prairie Ag Hotwire, fababeans have been in the $5.50-$6.50 per bushel range for the last year in Western Canada.

— Ashley Robinson writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Glacier FarmMedia company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. Follow her at @AshleyMR1993 on Twitter.

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