By Stefanie Croley
Interest and demand for pulse crops like lentil is increasing year over year, and in 2020, Canadian lentil farmers had the numbers to back that statement up. According to Statistics Canada’s Outlook for Principal Field Crops, released Dec. 18, 2020, Canadian lentil production increased by more than 20 per cent over 2019 to 2.9 million tonnes.
Canada is the top global exporter of lentils, so keeping an eye on potential export markets is an important consideration for current and future lentil growers – but would this even be a story about 2020 without a curveball?
As it has in previous years, India remained the largest destination for Canadian lentil exports in 2020. In September, the country reduced tariffs on imported lentils to 10 per cent, and then further extended the tariff reduction through the end of the year. But the extension happened at the same time as a logistical issue with shipping container supplies, resulting in high costs for exporters.
Export market uncertainty can happen in any year, for any crop – and often, it’s out of the producers’ control. Luckily for Canadian lentil growers, some of the most exciting research on this small but mighty crop is happening right here in Canada.
This issue is filled with strategies and advice for lentil production to help you improve the factors you do have some control over: seeding rates, variety selection and potential for different growing seasons, and insect pest and disease management, to name a few.
Perhaps most intriguing is the potential for winter pulses, which Julienne Isaacs explores further in our cover story. In Montana, a winter hardiness trial for new winter pea varieties is currently underway, with a goal of finding varieties that can be broadly adapted with good agronomic traits. That research has inspired a similar project in Alberta, and as Ken Coles at Farming Smart shares in the article, the interest in winter pulses in Canada continues to grow. Check out the full story, beginning on page 4, to read more on this exciting research.
If lentils are on your radar for the 2021 growing season or beyond, we hope this issue provides you with resources to make the best decisions for the success of this very niche crop.