This is going to be the year of pulse crops in Saskatchewan.
StatsCanada has just released its forecast of seeding intentions for this season. In this province, acreage dedicated to wheat and canola will decline while lentils are going to experience a big boost. Peas will also be up.
For coarse grains, farmers plan to reduce the number of acres they will devote with a few exceptions such as rye, barley and durum. On oilseeds, mustard acreage will be up while flax is expected to fall.
But the big increases will come in lentils and peas while chickpea is going to be down. Summer fallow will also drop this year as farmers look to maximize their output.
The push on pulses comes as no surprise as prices have been strong on solid demand as Saskatchewan increases its importance as a major global producer and exporter of these crops that are staples in expanding economies such as India where the middle class is growing and their purchasing power for an improved diet is becoming increasingly evident.
Cheaper gas. That brought down retail sales in this province in February.
Overall revenues at retail outlets went down about $6 million in the month – roughly five or six dollar per person in the province – in the shortest month of the year. According to StatsCan, it was all attributable to lower gasoline sales.
It was the eighth consecutive month for falling gasoline sales across the country. They were down nearly five percent.
February also marked the first month in five that Saskatchewan saw a decline in consumer spending. On a year-over-year basis we were just slightly ahead of last February. Basically, we’re holding our own, not up or down very much at all.
In part we can track retail sales volumes with population. For the last decade, as we added significantly more people on a consistent basis, spending at retail outlets increased. But now that the population growth is more subdued, we’re seeing that reflected in retail activity. We seem to spending roughly the same amount per person, it’s just that there’s not more of us.
This province’s wholesale sector took it on the chin in February. Often, wholesale can be an indicator of where retail sales are going to be headed but this is not always the case as a big segment of this part of the economy in Saskatchewan is related to export or industrial activity. That seems to be the case in this month’s report on the state of wholesale traffic.
In dollar terms, wholesalers in the province generated revenues of $2.1 billion in February. That is down about 13 percent from January – the biggest decline in the country – and accounted for the entire decline of the past year.
While it was a notable decline, we were not alone as nine of the ten provinces saw reductions in the volume of sales in this market segment.
StatsCan says the drop in Saskatchewan was general – basically across the board – so no single industry took a big hit. Part of this might be related to the resurgence of our dollar since bottoming out in January as exports would have translated into fewer Canadian dollars when converted from US.
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