Canada farmers boost canola plantings-trade

Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:42am EDT
 
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Canadian farmers will take advantage of dry planting conditions this spring to sow a record-large canola area, and boost acreage of wheat and other crops, according to a Reuters trade survey.

After spring floods the past two years washed out millions of acres in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, farmers have started planting early this year.

In Statistics Canada's first report of the year on planting plans Tuesday, the government agency will forecast 20.6 million acres of canola, according to a Reuters survey of 16 grain traders and analysts.

That would smash last year's record high of 18.9 million acres by 9 percent and exceed by more than 1 million acres the average estimate in a previous Reuters poll only two months ago.

(Graphic: link.reuters.com/vak77s)

Most major crops stand to gain acres in favorable planting conditions, but new-crop canola futures prices soared this month to contract highs on demand from crushers and exporters for the oilseed used to make vegetable oil.

"Farmer comments seem to be coming from all parts of the Prairies that an extra quarter or half section (of land for) canola will be planted based on profitability," said Ron Frost, an Alberta-based agriculture analyst. "Some comments from northern areas even suggest good crop rotation practices will be ignored to capitalize on this potential windfall year."

The only question in analysts' minds is just how bullish farmers are. The lowest estimate of 19.85 million acres still amounts to 1 million acres more canola than last year, while the most optimistic guess is a whopping 21.6 million acres.   Continued...