Mustard ranks number three—only behind lentils and peas—in terms of projected returns per acre in 2016.
The mustard carryover is the lowest since 2008-09 and contract prices are robust. New crop yellow mustard contracts are available at 45 cents a pound with oriental and brown mustard in the 35 to 36 cent range.
Chuck Penner with LeftField Commodity Research says the falling Canadian dollar has boosted contract values.
“If we were par with the United States, our mustard bids would be 15 cents a pound lower. It is not all fundamental factors. It is not just that we are tight on supplies. A big chunk is that the dollar is in the toilet.”
Penner has a bullish mustard acreage projection for Saskatchewan and Alberta. His estimate at the Saskatchewan Mustard Development Commission meeting on January 14 in Saskatoon was 475,000 acres—an increase of 38 per cent over last year.
“I have already been told that I’m too optimistic. I see a fairly big increase, not back to 2014 levels (500,000 acres), but to some fairly solid levels.”
Traditional mustard growers will likely increase acreage, but it will be a bigger challenge for farmers who don’t usually plant the oilseed. Mustard is not a good agronomic match on land that has grown canola over the past five years. Volunteer canola results in lower grades and reduced prices for mustard.
“The recommendation typically says you should have three or four other crops between canola and mustard,” says Kevin Hursh, Sask Mustard executive director. “In most areas outside of southwest and west-central Saskatchewan, the land is canola every two or three years, so it doesn’t give them (farmers) the opportunity to jump in very easily.”
Weed control in mustard is more challenging than in canola, which has a number of herbicide tolerant varieties with one pass, simple weed control systems. Hursh hopes current research can develop a mustard variety with herbicide tolerance by the end of the decade.
“It is some ways away but within the not too distant future—maybe three, four, five years—there might be some products you can spray on mustard that control most all of your broadleaf weed problems.”