Strong cereal prices, flat canary seed prices and disappointing past yields have led to the lowest canary seed acreage in Canada in decades, according to Kevin Hursh, executive director for the Canaryseed Development Commission of Saskatchewan.
According to Statistics Canada's seeded acreage report released June 25, canary seed acreage dropped to 165,000 acres in 2013-14 from 300,000 acres in 2012-13.
"I think relatively strong prices for wheat, durum and other cereal options are affecting the acreage," Hursh said. "And the fact that we keep talking about canary seed stocks getting tighter, but we aren't seeing any price improvements, is another reason for the drop.
"We've had yield disappointments in canary seed and we're trying to get agronomic and breeding work to get better yields. Producers don't like the unpredictability, or the fact that we haven't made progress on the yield front, so I think it's a combination of all those things," he added.
Canary seed has been sitting around the 27 cents per pound mark, but the small acreage for 2013-14 could cause prices to increase in the near future.
"With production that short with Canada and Saskatchewan being the world's main supplier to the export market, the price should go up," said Hursh, who's based in Saskatoon.
"The big wildcard out there is that no one knows how much canary seed is in storage. It's a crop that many producers have stored for many years, speculating that the crop eventually had to get in short supply and the prices had to go up."
As for the new crop, Grant McLean, cropping management specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture in Moose Jaw, said crop progression is behind what it should be at this time of the season.
"I think the crops are coming along, but they are behind because of the delayed seeding and cooler temperatures that we've experienced," McLean said. "I think the crop is behind by a week, and in some cases, 10 days behind where we'd like them to be."
-- Brandon Logan writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.