Canada harvests bigger wheat, canola crops despite snowy fall

(Dave Bedard photo)

Reuters — Canada’s wheat and canola crops withstood unfavourable autumn weather, topping Statistics Canada’s previous estimates and last year’s production, according to the government agency’s report on Tuesday.

The estimates were met with greater skepticism than usual from traders and analysts, as StatsCan surveyed farmers during unusually snowy, then mild, autumn weather that raised fears that growers would be unable to finish harvesting before winter.

“The weather during the time the survey was taken would have left a whole lot of uncertainty,” said Dave Reimann, grain market analyst at Cargill Ltd. “I’m not sure how farmers could answer those questions with a lot of confidence.”

StatsCan pegged the all-wheat crop at 31.7 million tonnes, up 15 per cent from last year and exceeding the average trade expectation of 30.7 million tonnes.

The wheat harvest was the second-biggest in 25 years.

The all-wheat category includes spring and winter wheat, as well as durum, the wheat used to make pasta. StatsCan estimated record-large durum production at 7.8 million tonnes, up 44 percent from a year ago and topping the average trade expectation of 7.2 million.

Higher-than-expected Canadian wheat production is not a market “game-changer,” Reimann said. But it adds to record global production, according to the International Grains Council.

Canola production was 18.4 million tonnes, up 0.3 per cent from last year and the second-largest Canadian canola crop on record, but short of the average trade guess of 18.8 million tonnes.

Estimates for both crops came in higher than StatsCan’s previous estimates in August.

Snow blanketed crops in Alberta and Saskatchewan in October, stopping farmers for weeks from finishing the harvest. An unusual November warm spell allowed them a last chance to bring in most of the remaining crop.

January canola futures at ICE Futures Canada pared their gains after the report.

Canada is one of the world’s largest wheat exporters and the biggest shipper of canola, a cousin of rapeseed used largely to produce vegetable oil.

Reporting for Reuters by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg and Dale Smith in Ottawa.



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