Tight chickpea supplies to limit Canadian acres

CNS Canada — Tight chickpea supplies will keep Canada from taking advantage of fresh demand out of Turkey, while any acreage increases will also be hampered by poor seed supply.

Due to its own domestic chickpea shortage, Turkey recently announced it was temporarily lifting import tariffs on chickpeas.

Turkey has bought Canadian chickpeas in the past, but the country typically wants nine- and 10-millimetre kabulis, which, after the poor quality and yields of 2016, are not available from Canada.

“With the incredible market in the fall, the vast majority of all forms of chickpeas are gone; pet food, human consumption, it’s just all gone,” said Colin Young of Midwest Grain in Moose Jaw.

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On top of terrible quality, the yields were significantly lower than average, said Young, adding “the only good-quality stuff being held back is for planting seed.”

While there is little old-crop business going on anymore, new-crop chickpea prices look relatively solid compared to other pulse options, such as lentils.

Growers would like to plant more chickpeas, Young said, but the acres would be capped by seed supply.

“The outlook for chickpeas looks very favourable, especially compared to lentils,” said Young, adding “if there was an abundance of seed, I believe chickpea acres would be very strong, but because the planting seed is very restricted and the quality is marginal, we won’t see an expanded acreage in Canada.”

A growing market for chickpeas from the pet food market has created a price floor, taking the bottom-end risk out of the market, said Young.

As a result, “the biggest risk growing chickpeas is just getting them in the bin,” with average yields needed to make money.

Canadian farmers planted 168,000 acres of chickpeas in 2016, producing an 82,000-tonne crop, according to Statistics Canada data.

— Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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