Trade awaits updated StatsCan production estimates

(Dave Bedard photo)

CNS Canada — Statistics Canada releases updated estimates on the size of the 2014-15 crops on Friday, but the lateness of the harvest in many areas will limit how much stock the industry puts in the numbers at this time.

Average trade guesses generally predict a slight increase for most of the major crops compared to the previous report, released Aug. 21. However, the survey was conducted in early September, when there was still very little harvest activity across Western Canada.

“The trade is anticipating a slight increase (from the August report), but the comments from the country are quite variable,” said Jerry Klassen, manager for Swiss-based GAP SA Grains and Products in Winnipeg.

“StatsCan is known to be conservative in its September report, but given the conditions we’ve had since the last report, it could go either way,” he said, adding that “it’s a step closer than where we were on the last report.”

Ken Ball of PI Financial echoed that sentiment, noting the report “will give us a better estimate of the crop than the last one,” but because of when the data was collected, it “won’t reflect harvest results.”

Now that the harvest is actually moving forward, “there are some areas that are coming in better, but there are others that are well below expectations,” making it hard to get a feel on the size of the crop, said Ball. He said the report will be second-guessed quickly given the large amount of cropland still unharvested.

Trade guesses on the size of the Canadian canola crop generally range from about 14 million to 14.9 million tonnes, which would be up from the August estimate of 13.9 million, but still well below the record-large production seen in 2013-14 of nearly 18 million tonnes.

Estimates on all-wheat production (including durum) range from about 27.7 million tonnes to 29 million, which compares with the August estimate of 27.7 million and the year-ago level of 37.5 million tonnes. Of that total, durum estimates range from 4.5 million to 5.5 million tonnes, which compares with the previous estimate of 4.9 million and the year-ago level of 6.5 million.

Barley and oats are both only expected to see minor adjustments from the August report. Pre-report guesses for barley range from about seven million to 7.4 million tonnes, which would be in line with the 7.2 million forecast in August, but still below the 10.2 million grown in 2013-14.

Trade estimates on the size of the oats crop range from about 2.6 million to 2.9 million tonnes. Canada grew 3.9 million tonnes of oats in 2013-14.

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

Table: A quick summary of pre-report trade estimates, ahead of the Statistics Canada production report, in millions of metric tonnes.

Pre-report StatsCan StatsCan
  ideas Aug. 21 Final
 ………………..  …………………………….. 2014-15……. 2013-14
Durum 4.500 – 5.500 4.953 6.505
All wheat 27.700 – 29.000 27.704 37.530
Oats 2.600 – 2.900 2.639 3.888
Barley 7.000 – 7.400 7.164 10.237
Flaxseed 0.900 – 1.000 0.908 0.712
Canola 14.000 – 14.900 13.908 17.960

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