In late July I toured Canadian mustard fields. The overall impression of the crops is mostly fair or below average in Saskatchewan, and better than average in Alberta. Reports from North Dakota, Manitoba and Montana suggest mustard crops are, at best, mostly good. All growing areas will be quite variable in yield due to the spotty nature of rains during the growing season. Mustard grown just a few miles apart can have significantly different outcomes depending on whether or not the field received a timely shower.
In early May, almost all areas experienced summer like heat that evaporated the top soil moisture very quickly. Most mustard fields in Alberta, North Dakota, and Montana received more than 3 inches of rain, whereas many fields in southwest Saskatchewan struggled to get even an inch of rain since May. All areas have received hot weather (30+C), but there have also been some cooler breaks that have allowed the plants some relief during the critical flowering stage.
In addition to lower yields from the dry, hot weather, many growers also had to deal with poor or uneven germination caused by the lack of soil moisture after seeding. This uneven germination usually results in higher dockage due to the higher weed pressure.
Our brown mustard is grown primarily in Saskatchewan and, despite the lack of rain, most of our contracted fields received some timely rains. Additionally, due to the more drought tolerant nature of brown mustard compared to yellow, the yields should be average or good. Canada’s carryforward position from 2017 for brown is zero, therefore, all are pleased to see the progress of brown so far. Olds Products also increased our number of contracted acres to ensure we do not run out. The brown harvest will start as early as next week, and the industry numbers (Statistics Canada) in Canada are estimating a large increase in brown acres from 2017 with only slight increase in yellow.
The yellow mustard harvest started in Montana and Saskatchewan in early August. Initial comments indicate fewer bushels are being harvested than expected. Hot and dry weather this week will bring more growers to harvest, but more will start in the next week or two.
Harvest sample information will be sent to growers shortly. Olds Products will continue, as in past years, to analyze representative samples before shipping orders are given. Please contact me when you complete your mustard harvest. That will allow me to start the plan to ship from farms. In addition to checking the samples for admixture and overall quality, Olds Products will also continue to send a portion of each harvest sample to the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) for testing that includes oil and protein. The CGC provides an annual mustard quality report to all interested parties that includes results of all samples submitted by growers, dealers and processors. Thank you.