After two years of both record spot and grower contract prices we are seeing some of that steam released due to strong initial interest to grow mustard in 2023 in Canada and USA. Statistics Canada and the USDA have released their initial predictions for mustard acres and they are impressively higher in Canada from 2022 (15%) and slightly lower in the USA from 2022 (20%). 2022 mustard acres were already significantly higher, from both 2021 and the previous 5 year average, in Canada by 40% and over 100% in USA!
Grower seeding intentions are subject to change before seeding and that can alter the earlier predictions from Statistics Canada and the USDA. Less change though in the USA where most insured mustard acres require a contract. Contract acres are less subject to change. In 2022 the actual seeding of mustard surged over 100,000 acres in Canada from the initial Statistics Canada prediction! The main reason for the 2022 Spring acre surge was a spot price for mustard that increased to its highest levels during this time. This year with the significant decrease in spot prices there is potential for acres to fall off but if they do not we have potential to significantly increase mustard inventories at the farm level. Many of the spot growers are also experienced enough to know when not to sell. Many will lock up bins and wait for the next shortage.
Looking back over the past 35 years the spot price has been a good indicator of seeded acres -high spot price always followed by significant increase in mustard acres- but from 2008 until 2022 this correlation was muted. During this time Canada saw a paradigm shift in to major increases in canola acres. As a result mustard was snuffed out of many growing areas and retreated to mostly the brown soil areas in the southern parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan. The trend for canola will continue and in the absence of record spot prices we will not see the late season urge to grow mustard. Most of the mustard acres in the USA that were added in 2022 are in Montana.
Going forward regular mustard supply will have to rely on experienced growers who see the benefit of growing under contract for good returns. Mustard research supported by the government of Canada, SMDC and the CMA will be the needed driver to further improve yield and performance.
Farm inventory levels for mustard remain very low given the high spot prices into March 2022. However given the disaster or near disaster caused by running out of mustard in 2022, as was the much publicized case in France, inventory levels with buyers and end users are moving higher again. The inventory trend will be to move higher but this all hinges on domestic yield and production. Mustard yields grown on dryland (no irrigation) are incredibly variable given the ranges of precipitation across the N.A. prairies.
Seeding of mustard is beginning this week in Alberta and Montana and a good start is supported by good topsoil moisture. Conditions can change quickly. This week we have temperatures in the mid to high 20’s C in Alberta and a rain after seeding would be optimal. Saskatchewan and North Dakota just barely are out of winterlike conditions and it may be a week or two before they get started with seeding mustard. I attended a conference in February and one of the more followed weather forecasters was predicting a cool dry May followed by “some” rain in June for the N.A prairies. We will see but the most important cornerstones are in place for Olds Products and those are our contract growers in Canada and USA. Thank you and all the best with your 2023 crop!