Rains cast doubt on Canada crop stats

Wed Jun 23, 2010 11:15am EDT
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - The Canadian government on Wednesday estimated that farmers planted or intended to plant a record canola area and less wheat and barley this year, but Statistics Canada admitted the report may not reflect the full impact of record spring rains.

Traders and analysts view the report as inaccurate, since Statscan surveyed farmers between May 25 and June 3, prior to disastrous June rains in Western Canada that left the country's biggest unplanted acreage in 39 years.

The government statistics agency acknowledged its preliminary planting estimates may not reflect reality.

"As a result of continued inclement weather in Western Canada, estimates of planted areas may change considerably in the July farm survey, which will be released on August 20," Statscan said.

Statscan pegged all-wheat acres at 22.72 million, down 7 percent from a year ago, and canola area at 17.895 million acres, up 10.5 percent. It estimates barley acres at 8.052 million acres (down 7 percent) and oat area of 3.738 million acres, marginally higher than last year.

(Graphic on crop areas: link.reuters.com/tyq63m )

While the trade doesn't believe those acreages are realistic, some say the fact that farmers were still intent on planting that much wheat and canola in early June -- following unfavorably wet conditions in May -- suggests that acreages may not have fallen off as much as some thought.

The Canadian Wheat Board's June 11 forecast of the smallest all-wheat plantings in 39 years -- 19.15 million acres -- now looks too pessimistic, said Lawrence Yakielashek, general manager and vice-president of grain company Alfred C. Toepfer (Canada).   Continued...