It looks like pulses, including peas, are the major losers in the battle for acres in Australia this year.
Much like the outlook in Canada, the outlook for Australian peas is quite bearish. This is because, like Canada, India is the biggest market for Australian peas. And India decided a few months ago to get ruthless and tax peas imports!
However, ABARES, the Aussie equivalent of a USDA, is expecting Australian peas acreage to stay flat in 2018/19.
This past growing season of the 2017/18 crop, Australian peas acreage was around 500,000 acres. The same area is expected to get seeded this year with Australian peas.
What does production look like for 2018/19? Average yields?
If we’re looking more long-term though, Australian peas acreage has been on a 10-year downward trend.
What does Australian peas production look like for 2018/19? Average yields?
ABARES pegs Australian peas yield in 2018/19 at 19.3 bu/ac. This is unchanged from 2017/18 yield and down from 2016/17’s record high of 26.8 bu/ac. The 5-year average is pegged at roughly 19.6 bu/ac.
Comparably, here in North America peas yields look much better. Agriculture Canada pegged Canadian peas yields in 2017/18 and 2018/19 at 37.2 bu/ac. The 5-year average sits at roughly 37.5 bu/ac.
With a slightly lower acreage and an unchanged yield estimate, the 2018/19 Australian pea production will get to the 300 thousand tonnes mark, unchanged from 2017/18 level but sharply down from the 2016/17’s record high of 415 thousand tonnes.
Also, Australian sources reported mid-February that “field pea, chickpea, and lentils shipments diverted from India have flooded other markets, causing prices for these three crops to plummet by as much as 30% since last December.”
On the export front, Australian peas exports are expected to drop by nearly 30 % from 2016/17’s past five-year high of 225 thousand tonnes to 160 thousand tonnes in 2018/19.
We would argue though that since Australian peas production is more of a fringe pulse crop option in Australia, relative to chickpeas, 2018/19 acres could come in lower than the 500,000 or so currently forecasted.
End all, be all, it’s our view that spillover from the Indian import tariff situation will continue to hang over the market for Australian peas, negatively impacting their price, and thus, their potential for production.