The mustard harvest of 2018 finally wrapped up last week! Other than some drying to reduce seed moisture the mustard is suited for storage and ready for shipment.
Since my last report in late September, growers were very fortunate the weather warmed and the snow/rain ceased right through last week. This week looks and feels like winter across the prairies as temps are now below the freezing mark.
Starting in August, Olds Products had very good movement off farms for both yellow and brown mustard. This prevented us from running too low in our cleaned mustard inventory. We have since brought our inventory levels to more comfortable levels but we expect that in December we will start another strong pull into the cleaning facility that will last through to July 2019.
Harvest samples from our contract growers continue to come into our office for analysis and it looks like we will have a steady stream of No.1 quality mustard to clean in the crop year. That is not say that we do not have cleaning challenges. We have had to address higher levels of wild buckwheat and other black seeds such as canola and wild mustard. We have yet to see any evidence of damage caused by frost or rain/snow.
Yields for Canadian grown mustard in 2018 were effected by too little rain during key periods of the growing season. This is especially true for yellow mustard as the average yield struggled to reach 650 lb/acre in Alberta, and just under 600 lb/acre in Saskatchewan. In the USA (North Dakota and Montana) the average yield was just over 700 lb/acre. The average brown mustard yield was just under 900 lbs/acre in Saskatchewan. It appears that brown mustard seed was the winner for growers when price and yield are both included in a gross revenue comparison. The actual average yield results for Olds Products’ growers are below my earlier September estimate. I believe the industry yield will be close to our results. Therefore, after a second year below the 10-year average yields for yellow mustard in Canada, some price pressure in the spot market could soon be revealed if even a bit of demand comes from Europe (where yields were also low). Spot grower bids in Canada and the USA have recently moved only slightly higher off the summer lows. But most buyers focus on buying their contracted mustard in the early months after harvest, as is the case for Olds Products.
Given the lower yellow yields in both Canada and USA, the outlook for 2019 will require an increase in industry acres. This especially true in Canada where, unlike the USA, the yellow acres have drifted somewhat lower since 2016. Increases in acres are influenced partly by spot price levels and the next few months will tell the story. Even though mustard acres were higher in 2018 than 2017 the increases were almost entirely for Brown mustard. In Saskatchewan, where almost all of the brown mustard is grown, production could surpass yellow just like it did in 2011, which is remarkable. I would expect brown acres to decrease from the near-record-2018, but supply levels were zero this summer and so we will require a solid return of significant acres in 2019.
The Olds Products contracted organic acres reached a new high in 2018, and we expect more of the same in 2019. Yields in 2018 for organic yellow and brown were also affected by the hot and dry conditions in the growing period. Similar to our regular mustard ,the quality is also looking to be almost entirely No.1, but not without some normal cleaning challenges.
Olds Products will be out with our contract prices again in early January. I look forward to working with all of our past growers in 2019-20. We expect to have a small percentage of our 2019 brown acres to be seeded with a new hybrid that will be out for the first time for commercial production. I will report more as we receive the details regarding the availability of certified hybrid brown seed.