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Walter Dyck's Crop Reports

May 1, 2024

Spring planting on the Canadian and USA prairies has started after what could be easily termed a warm winter. Some cold weather landed in mid-January for a week and after that we had three brief but solid storms in February that provided reminders that winter was not asleep. But for the rest of the season it was mild and dry. In Alberta water conservation efforts are being planned after the continuing drought. Irrigators in the south normally would use up to 18 inches of water in a season but this the level has been dropped to a maximum of 8 inches for 2024. Reservoirs are below 25% capacity and the mountain snow pack is estimated to be below average. Mustard can compete somewhat well under irrigation but even more so  when the upper limit is reduced. However, it is not expected that mustard will pick up a significant number of the irrigated acres this year. If the drought persists in the  following years the latest higher yielding mustard varieties may play a bigger role under irrigation especially if world prices are high.

World mustard acres are expected to decrease this year in response to the higher carryforward mustard inventory that is expected in July before the harvest begins. Normally, first acres of mustard planted every year are in Russia and the Ukraine and acreage levels there are understandably down significantly from the past two reactive years. In Canada and the USA mustard acres are also expected to drop but not as much given the positive grower returns for yellow mustard. Brown and oriental will see significant drops in acres due to the large surges last year. Overall acres will be down but still well above the 10 year average of 465,000 in Canada (2024-550,000) and 130,000 in the USA (2024-190,000). Yellow mustard acres in Canada and the USA will dominate the mustard acres in 2024. Normal demand for Canadian/USA grown mustard is approx. 140,000 MT (60% yellow, 25% brown and 15% oriental) of which, prior to 2023, 20,000 MT came from the USA. In 2023 the USA produced 40,000 MT after doubling the acres grown in 2022!

As per our previous crop report the yields for yellow mustard in Canada/USA have been below average the past two years and this alone has supported the strong demand for yellow acres in 2024. Most if not all the yellow acres are grown in brown soil zones compared to brown/oriental that move more easily into the dark brown soil areas of Saskatchewan when demand for those acres is unusually high as was the case the past two years.

Topsoil moisture conditions are good for seeding but as is almost always the case Spring rains are critically needed after seeding as subsoil moisture will need to be replenished. Currently much of the prairies is getting some rain or snow and that is welcome even though seeding has only just begun.  Growers are reporting very good conditions for seeding.



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