Prices Behind Big Jump in Alberta Lentil Production

Prices are the No. 1 factor as Alberta lentil production is set to surge this year to potentially the highest on record.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the world wanted protein, they came after lentils and all of a sudden lentils from the countryside were being shipped,” said Don Shepert, the chair of the Alberta Pulse Growers, adding that prices jumped from about 15 cents/lb to 30 cents and upwards to 35 cents in some cases.

“When you’re getting 15 cents/lbs nobody grows lentils.”

Statistics Canada on Monday reported that Alberta lentil production will hit a record 458,124 tonnes this year, up 173% from the 2019 crop of 167,600 tonnes. The previous record was in 2016, when 451,800 tonnes of lentils were grown.

In addition to prices, Shepert noted that lentils need less moisture, making it a good crop for farmers in eastern and southern Alberta. Even in dry years, he said farmers can still get their lentils to produce 10 to 15 bu/acre.

Total national lentil production this year is forecast at 3.065 million tonnes, the second most on record. That’s a 9.3% increase from StatsCan’s August report and a 36.7% jump from 2019, when Canada produced 2.242 million tonnes.

Saskatchewan still grows the bulk of the country’s lentils and is set to reap 2.605 million tonnes this year, for its second largest crop.

Source: DePutter Publishing Ltd.

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