StatsCan delivers big surprises in first acreage estimates

Canadian farmers plan to seed far fewer acres of canola and much more wheat than what the market was expecting, according to Statistics Canada’s first acreage estimates for the 2018 growing season.

The federal agency published its Principle Field Crop Areas report on Friday, based on a survey of about 11,600 farms between March 2 and March 29.

Quelle canola surprise

  • Canola area is estimated at 21.4 million acres, down seven percent from last year’s record of just under 23 million.
  • Not only is that down from last year, but pre-report estimates for canola ranged from 23.7 million to 24.3 million — all higher than last year.
  • The timing of the StatsCan survey needs to be considered, as late snowfall may have alleviated drought concerns that were holding back canola acres at the time.

Wheat, what?

  • All-wheat acres are estimated at 25.3 million, up 12.8 percent from 2017.
  • The market was expecting the acreage number to land between 21 and 24 million.
  • Spring wheat acres are expected to be up 15.4 percent from last year, to 18.2 million.
  • Durum acreage is projected at 5.8 million, up 11 percent from 2017 (despite Italy closing its border to Canadian durum).

Soybeans slip

  • Nationally, soybean area is pegged at 6.5 million acres, down 11.4 percent from the record set in 2017.
  • The trade was expecting a higher soybean number, closer to 7.2 million.
  • Contrary to North American expectations of more soybeans, Ontario soybean acres are projected to be down slightly from last year (1.8 percent), at 3.0 million, while Manitoba is expected to see a 14.4 percent decline to 2.0 million acres — the first decrease in the prairie province since 2007.

A little more corn

  • National corn area is estimated at 3.8 million, up 5.1 percent from 2017.
  • Manitoba farmers could set a new provincial record, with 455,000 acres, while Ontario area is expected to rise 2.4 percent to 2.2 million, with Quebec at 1.0 million acres.

Bringing back barley

  • Barley acreage is expected to rise 5.1 percent to 6.1 million acres nationally.
  • Oat area is projected to be flat to down slightly, at 3.1 million acres.

Pulses down, but not by much

  • Both the pea and lentil estimates from StatsCan came in higher than most analysts were expecting, in the context of the export problems with India.
  • Lentil area is projected to decline by only 8.1 percent to 4.1 million acres. (The median trade guess was somewhere around 3.5 million.)
  • For peas, StatsCan is projecting 3.9 million acres, down only 5.5 percent from 2017.
  • Chickpea acreage is expected to more than double from 160 thousand to 346 thousand acres.

The next series of StatsCan acreage estimates are scheduled to be published on June 29.

More to come…

 

Kelvin Heppner

Kelvin Heppner is a field editor and radio host for RealAgriculture and RealAg Radio. He's been reporting on agriculture on the prairies and across Canada since 2008(ish). He farms with his family near Altona, Manitoba, and is on Twitter at @realag_kelvin. @realag_kelvin

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