Canadian farmers to plant more wheat than expected
By Rod Nickel
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Canadian farmers intend to plant nearly a million acres more wheat than the industry expected in the first year of an open grain market, along with a record-large canola crop, Statistics Canada reported Tuesday in its initial forecast of 2012 planting intentions.
Drier-than-normal weather in Western Canada, stretching back to last summer, brought millions of previously flooded acres back into production this spring, lifting plantings of most major crops.
All-wheat plantings may rise 13 percent to 24.3 million acres from last year's 21.5 million acres, blowing away the average trade estimate of 23.4 million acres in the first year farmers can sell their wheat or barley to buyers other than the Canadian Wheat Board.
A new Canadian law will end the Wheat Board's 69-year-old marketing monopoly on western wheat and durum for export or human consumption on August 1, allowing farmers to sell their next crops to any buyer, not just the CWB.
Manitoba farmer Doug Chorney, who heads Keystone Agricultural Producers, said farmers' bullishness about wheat is less about the marketing change than high prices.
"I've been able to forward-sell my spring wheat at very good prices. Producers are fairly bullish on wheat this year," he said.
Some farmers who pushed Ottawa for years to create an open wheat market are expanding wheat acres because of the monopoly ending, but others are guided by prices, said Norm Hall, who will plant wheat, flax, canola and peas near Wynyard, Saskatchewan this spring. He is president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan. Continued...