Late spring fuels uncertainty in StatsCan acreage ideas

Industry participants are certain we’ll see uncertainty in Statistics Canada’s first seeding intentions survey for the spring of 2013, given the late winter thaw, possibilities of flooding in some regions and resulting delays in planting crops.

StatsCan’s planting intentions survey, conducted the week of March 25 to April 3 and due out Wednesday, included 13,805 farmers from across Canada.

A late start to planting will likely change some of those intentions, with some farmers moving to shorter-season crops to accommodate the delays in planting, said Jerry Klassen, manager of GAP SA Grains and Produits in Winnipeg.

“The report will provide the industry with a look at what was expected to go into the ground, but there will also be adjustments going forward,” he said.

The area that could go unseeded due to flooding across parts of Western Canada may rise from early expectations, said Mike Jubinville, an analyst with ProFarmer Canada.

The area left unplanted, or as summerfallow, across Canada was expected to range anywhere from 4.399 million acres to as high as six million. In the spring of 2012, 4.485 million acres were left as summerfallow. Estimates at the higher range of the scale took in the late spring melt and delays in planting the crop.

Klassen pointed out that an anticipated shift in the weather pattern was anticipated in roughly 10 days to two weeks, with temperatures and conditions turning a bit warmer and drier.

“A period of 14 to 20 days of decent weather will be enough to see most of what farmers intended on planting this spring be put into the ground,” he said.

Should seeding operations be delayed into the late May or early June period, Jubinville noted, the chances are good that farmers will switch to short-season crops. “The change will come as crop insurance deadlines approach.”

StatsCan’s report is expected to reveal that farmers in Canada plan on seeding 20 million to 21.251 million acres of canola this spring. During the 2012 season, 21.531 million acres of canola were seeded, but production, due to below-normal yield potential amid poor weather, came in well below expectations.

Canola crop rotations have been pushed to the brink in past years by farmers, but strong financial considerations along with the crop usually being the main beneficiary of last-minute changes, means area could still be higher, Klassen said.

Both Klassen and Jubinville said that should normal canola yields be realized, canola production in Canada could easily top the 15 million-tonne level and establish a new all-time record high. The Canola Council of Canada had already established a goal that canola production in Canada would hit 15 million tonnes by the year 2015.

“If realized in 2013-14, that goal would be hit a bit earlier than expected,” Jubinville said.

One of the crops that had been expected to grow in size this spring was wheat. However, because the crop is not as competitively priced as alternatives such as flaxseed, barley and oats, the jump in area will not be as great, Jubinville said.

Pre-report ideas suggest all wheat area in Canada may range between 23.325 million and 25.326 million acres in the spring of 2013. In the spring of 2012, 23.825 million acres were seeded to all wheat in Canada.

Barley plantings in Canada, meanwhile, were seen ranging anywhere from 7.5 million to as high as eight million acres this spring. Last year, barley area in Canada totalled 7.405 million acres. Much of the jump in seeded area was tied to malting barley companies encouraging farmers to plant the crop by offering improved bids in long-term contracts.

– Dwayne Klassen writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

Table: Preliminary estimates for some of the crops to be included in Wednesday’s Statistics Canada seeding intentions report, in millions of acres.

  2013 acreage Acreage seeded
  intention estimates in 2012-13
All wheat 23.325 – 25.325 23.828
   Durum 4.100 – 5.100 4.679
Oats 2.595 – 3.300 2.854
Barley 7.500 – 8.000 7.405
Flaxseed 0.915 – 1.300 0.980
Canola 20.000 – 21.251 21.531
Soybeans 4.500 – 4.795 4.152
Corn 3.400 – 3.575 3.535
Peas 3.200 – 3.500 3.340
Summerfallow 4.399 – 6.000 4.485
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