Organic markets in full summer slowdown mode

organic corn File photo of an organic corn crop. Photo: Daniel Balakov/E+/Getty Images

By Phil Franz-Warkentin
Glacier FarmMedia staff

The summer doldrums have set in on the Canadian organic markets, with prices holding relatively steady and not much moving as sights settle in on the new crop.

“It’s been relatively slow,” said Jason Charles of Minnesota-based Pipeline Foods, which also operates facilities in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

“Farmers don’t want to move anything and buyers don’t want to buy anything… it’s always this way in June and July until we figure out what we have for a crop out in the field,” Charles added.

Jason Breault, of RW Organics in Saskatchewan, agreed prices were generally holding steady with activity in the markets generally quiet — although he noted grain was still moving, with occasional premiums available for higher-protein wheat.

While conventional markets continued to see wide price swings in June, the lack of movement for organic commodities was upsetting for some farmers, according to Charles.

He and Breault noted demand in general for organics was down, with mills not as busy as usual.

From an agronomic perspective, much of the Canadian Prairies dealt with hot and dry conditions through much of June, with that dryness behind some strength in the conventional markets.

While production issues could eventually provide support for new-crop organic bids, the jury is still out on the 2021 crop.

“There’s still a chance of having an average crop, but there are no bumper crops out there this year with how dry it is,” Breault said.

If we can get a shower in July sometime, we’ll probably make an average crop. – Jason Breault

Areas that had received timely rains were in decent shape, he said, while those that missed on any precipitation were struggling.

“If we can get a shower in July sometime, we’ll probably make an average crop,” he added.

“In Western Canada we’re living rain to rain,” Charles said, noting parts of North Dakota and Montana were in rough shape, with rain unlikely to do much good at this time. However, other parts of the U.S. Midwest were in generally good shape.

Lindsey Smith, of Field Farms Marketing in Ontario, said dryness was also causing some concerns for soybeans and corn in the province, although she noted forecasts for more rain into early July would likely alleviate the dryness somewhat.

While rains in Ontario at this stage of crop development would be welcomed for soybeans and corn, Smith noted that too much rain could cause delays for the winter wheat harvest.