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Jump anticipated in StatsCan production survey

Grain and oilseed production estimates in a 2011-12 crop survey, due out Tuesday from Statistics Canada, are expected to mainly show a jump in output from the previous report, according to industry projections.

“The general sentiment among individuals is that production, particularly in Western Canada, will be higher based on yields coming in at better than expected levels in a lot of cases,” said Ken Ball, a broker with Union Securities in Winnipeg.

He especially pointed out wheat yields in Saskatchewan, which were reportedly well above average.

“I know there is concern in the U.S. about lost spring wheat production due to a less-than-stellar growing season in the northern-tier U.S. states, but the spring wheat harvest on the Canadian Prairies will more than offset that decline,” Ball said.

Ron Frost, a grain and oilseed analyst with Frost Forecast Consulting agreed that production figures coming out in Tuesday’s report should be slightly higher than current StatsCan estimates.

However, small amounts of frost damage and some isolated dryness and heat in late summer may have trimmed yields, preventing a more significant boost in the government agency’s survey results, Frost said.

“In consultations I had with producers, most had favourable yields,” Frost said. “There were certainly some disappointments, but there were also real impressive results depending on the area of the Canadian Prairies.”

Some producers north of Calgary had hard red spring wheat yields that averaged 93 bushels an acre, he said.

Frost also pointed out that there should be no shortage of canola even if Statistics Canada doesn’t raise its production estimate as large as the industry is anticipating.

“I know that usage of the crop in the first seven weeks of the 2011-12 season, is a relative short period of time to base a trend, but combined with a large 2010-11 carryover, stocks of canola at the end of this new year could potentially be in the two million- to four million-metric ton range, which would be classified as extremely burdensome,” Frost said.

He acknowledged, however, that while usage in terms of domestic and exports has not been as strong as normal, there was still plenty of time for the pace to pick up.

Ball felt the only crops to which the grain industry was having trouble putting estimates were barley and oats.

“Barley yields have been disappointing in a number of locations, which farmers were anticipating some good numbers,” Ball said. “The same can be said about oats.”

There was some concern that the survey, which was conducted three weeks previous to the release, may not be as accurate as it could be, analysts said.

The following are Statistics Canada’s estimates and pre-report ideas for 2011-12 Canadian production, in millions of tonnes.

  Trade StatsCan StatsCan
  estimates August 2010-11
  2011-12 2011-12
Canola 13.500-14.200 13.192 11.866
All wheat 24.452-24.893 24.075 23.167
Barley 8.150-8.500 8.279 7.605
Oats 2.700-2.953 2.886 2.297
Peas 2.165-2.400 2.266 2.862
Flax 0.350-0.375 0.365 0.423
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