Less wheat, more canola expected in Canada

CNS Canada — Canadian farmers are expected to seed less wheat and more canola in 2014, according to average trade guesses ahead of Statistics Canada’s planting intentions report due out Thursday.

“Compared to last year, we’ll see less wheat,” said Jon Driedger of FarmLink Marketing in Winnipeg, estimating spring wheat area could be down by as much as two million acres from the previous year.

Pre-report trade guesses range from about 23.5 million to 25.2 million acres for all wheat (which included spring, winter and durum wheat), which would compare with the roughly 26.3 million acres seeded in 2013. Of the wheat, durum area is forecast at 4.5 million to 4.9 million acres, which would compare with the 4.965 million seeded the previous year.

Most of the lost wheat acres are expected to be seeded to canola, as the oilseed continues to pencil out as one of the best cropping options in the country.

“We’ll probably see canola intentions up a little, wheat down, and the rest will just see minor juggling,” said Ken Ball of PI Financial in Winnipeg.

Canola acres are forecast at 20 million to 22 million acres, with the majority of estimates coming in at around 21 million. That would compare with the 19.936 million acres seeded to the crop in 2013.

However, the StatsCan survey was conducted in late March, and improving wheat prices over the past month could adjust the actual area seeded to the crop.

Market analyst Wayne Palmer of Agri-Trend Marketing said farmers will generally stick with their rotations and grow what they are familiar with, but noted that actual plantings often end up as much as 10 to 20 per cent off the StatsCan intentions report.

Barley acres are forecast at 6.1 million to 7.2 million acres, which compares with 7.083 million acres in 2013. Oats are forecast at anywhere from 2.9 million to 3.6 million acres, which compares with 3.168 million in 2013.

Oats were one crop that had been looking a little more attractive earlier in the winter, given their low input costs, but might not be as attractive anymore, Driedger said.

— Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

Table: Pre-report trade estimates, in millions of acres.

Pre-report StatsCan
  estimates 2013-14
Canola 20.000 – 22.000 19.936
All wheat 23.500 – 25.200 26.257
   Durum 4.500 – 4.900 4.965
Barley 6.100 – 7.200 7.083
Flaxseed 1.100 – 1.500 1.035
Oats 2.900 – 3.600 3.168
Peas 3.300 – 3.800 3.285
Lentils 2.500 – 2.800 2.393

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