Canadian farmers squeeze in more canola acres than expected

WINNIPEG, Manitoba/OTTAWA - Canadian farmers planted a record area of canola and slightly less wheat than expected during the planting season, according to a Statistics Canada report on Thursday, although boggy conditions in parts of the Prairies may have stymied late seeding.

Canola plantings surpassed Canadian wheat seedings for the first time, due to strong prices.

Farmers planted canola on 22.8 million acres, up 12 percent from last year and topping the average trade guess of 22.2 million acres.

Larger than expected canola plantings were not a complete surprise, since the oilseed can be sown later than some crops, said Brian Voth, president of farmer advisory IntelliFARM.

Late sowing may limit yields, suggesting that huge plantings may not result in massive production, Voth said.

“It’s a lot of acres of canola, there’s no doubt about that, but this is only part of the picture. This is not necessarily an overly bearish report.”

ICE Canada November canola futures rose 0.5 percent.

Statscan pegged all-wheat plantings, which include spring wheat, durum and winter varieties, at 22.4 million acres, down 4 percent from a year ago and falling short of the average trade expectation of 22.7 million acres.

The report is based on Statscan’s farmer survey, conducted from May 26 through June 12, ending about a week from insurance deadlines to seed crops. Analysts have said that some fields were likely too wet for planting before that deadline in Alberta’s Peace River region and northeastern Saskatchewan, casting doubt over the final seeded area.

The decline in all-wheat plantings was due to a dropoff in durum seeding. Spring wheat acres rose 2.5 percent from last year.

Spring wheat plantings were less, however, than farmers intended to plant based on Statscan’s last report in April. They seeded 15.8 million acres, down from intentions for 16.7 million. Minneapolis September spring wheat futures jumped 7 percent.

Dry U.S. conditions have driven Minneapolis futures higher, but Canada’s spring wheat is in better shape because it was planted later, said Bruce Burnett, director of markets and weather information at Glacier FarmMedia.

Crops in southern Saskatchewan need rain soon to stimulate growth, he said.

Durum wheat plantings dropped 16 percent to 5.2 million acres, although the slide was not quite as great as expected. Farmers turned to other crops after last year’s harvest was dogged by disease.

Oat plantings jumped 14 percent to 3.2 million acres, just shy of the average trade expectation for 3.4 million.

Canada is one of the world’s largest wheat exporters and is the biggest shipper of canola.