June 23, 2011 / 1:49 PM / in 6 years

Wet weather cuts Canada wheat estimate, may cut more

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Canada’s farmers planted less wheat this spring than planned due to wet weather, Statistics Canada reported on Thursday, but analysts say plantings are likely even smaller than the report indicates because flooding worsened after the agency’s farmer survey.

<p>A field of corn is seen in Embrun, Ontario, October 16, 2010. REUTERS/Shaun Best</p>

Statscan reported that canola plantings rose from the earlier estimate to a record high, but the trade doubts the crop forecasts are realistic.

The government statistics agency itself noted that flooding caused delays and uncertainty around planting and its estimates may change in its next report August 24.

Traders and analysts have said for days that they expected the report to inflate plantings since excessively wet conditions in June kept many farmers from seeding their fields as intended.

“We just can’t use these numbers for anything realistic,” said Ken Ball, commodity futures and options broker at Union Securities in Winnipeg. “Reality is not going to go away.”

Farmers planted 23.6 million acres of all-wheat up 11.9 percent from last year, but lower than Statscan’s April estimate of 24.7 million acres.

Canola area is estimated to increase nearly 18 percent from last year to a record 19.8 million acres, surpassing the previous forecast for 19.2 million acres.

ICE Canada canola futures dove nearly 3 percent after the report’s release, but weaker outside markets played a bigger role than Statscan’s large planting estimate, traders said.

The report does confirm that farmers were determined to plant as much canola as possible, and the oilseed’s planted area is likely still record-large, although not as big as Statscan projected, Ball said.

Statscan’s area estimates for all-wheat and spring wheat in Western Canada, the region that produces most of the country’s harvest, are each 9 percent higher than estimates from the Canadian Wheat Board last week.

The board’s numbers are still the best current assessment of this year’s crop areas, said CWB director of weather and market analysis Bruce Burnett.

The next key question will be how many planted acres farmers will have to abandon due to flooding, Burnett said.

Oat acres are pegged at 3.8 million acres, compared with the previous estimate of 4.1 million acres and last year’s plantings of 2.9 million acres.

The oat trade will largely ignore the report as actual seedings are nearly one-fifth lower, said analyst Randy Strychar of Oatinsight.com.

Statscan forecast 6.7 million acres will go unplanted this year, the third-smallest fallow areas in the past decade and a sharp 42 percent drop from last year, when flooding was worse.

The Canadian Wheat Board forecast last week that 6 million to 8 million acres would go unplanted in Western Canada alone.

Statscan lowered planting estimates for barley and durum, but areas of both crops will increase 3 and 39 percent respectively from last year, the report said.

Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg and Howaida Sorour in Ottawa; Editing by David Gregorio

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