Delayed harvest has mixed effect on organic prices

Chickpeas Organic chickpeas are in high demand but in limited supply. Photo: Thinkstock

By Jade Markus
OrganicBiz staff

Excess moisture at the tail end of the growing season has had a varied effect on organic spot prices. Scarcity of pulses is driving values higher, while feed grains are moving lower.

Pulses

Despite an increase in seeded area, excess moisture during the final weeks of the growing season means pulses meeting grade specifications are hard to come by.

“Probably the largest acreage of lentils ever that’s gone in the ground in Saskatchewan, and lots of it isn’t making grade. So we’ll see — prices are probably going to start to rally going into the New Year,” said Scott Shiels, grain procurement merchant with Grain Millers Canada Inc.

Spot prices for organic French green and crimson lentils are about $0.80-$0.90 per pound.

Organic chickpeas are in high demand, but limited supply, which is also keeping those values strong.

Chickpeas were hit hard by a delayed harvest caused by rain and snow in Western Canada.

“Organic chickpeas are nearly impossible to find, and that kind of fits with the very bad pulse harvest in general from Saskatchewan,” said Laura Telford, organic sector specialist with Manitoba Agriculture.

“I’ve talked with a couple of buyers that seem willing to pay a lot, if they could just get their hands on some chickpeas.”

Grains

Moisture has reduced wheat quality in some areas, which is pressuring the market.

“There was lots of feed quality grain that came off,” Shiels said.

“That’s probably going to push prices a bit lower, there’s going to be lots.”

However, in general, demand for grains remains strong, Shiels said.

Corn prices in Ontario are trending higher due to adverse weather in the region, and those gains may continue.

“I think the corn price might go up. There seems to be a more limited supply of good corn out there,” said Leia Weaver, organic grain marketer with Roger Rivest Marketing.

Spot prices for organic corn in Ontario are about $11 to $12.50 a bushel.

Special crops

While both Manitoba and Saskatchewan have seen excess moisture, the quality of flax between the two provinces is vastly different. Prices for the commodity remain high, especially for brown flax, with demand underpinning values.

“Here in Manitoba, some of the producers had their best flax crop ever,” Telford said.

Part of the challenge in Saskatchewan has been a late harvest.

Spot prices for organic brown flax are moving into the $40 to $42 per bushel range.

“We’re basically going on a case-by-case basis, but I’m thinking those are going to be the prices that it’ll take to buy any good flax,” Shiels said.However, news in the yellow flax market has been limited as there wasn’t much grown this year, and many buyers have already bought what they need.