There were few surprises in the June Statistics Canada acreage report, though there were significant acreage moves for several of the principal field crops, year over year.
As expected, big winners in acreage versus 2019 were lentils, barley, and durum wheat, while canola and soybean total area fell in 2020, perhaps due to continued global market disruptions in the oilseeds complex.
This latest StatsCan report, released June 29, was based on a survey of around 24,500 farms from May 14 to June 11, with farmers reporting good conditions to start the planting season, though April was cool in Ontario, and areas of Western Canada did have 2019 crop to harvest before the 2020 crop could go in.
Much of Alberta and north-western Saskatchewan have received higher-than-average levels of precipitation to date and huge, destructive storms have ravaged parts of southern Alberta. Growing conditions in Ontario have been generally favourable to dry and hot. Isolated areas have experienced heavy rain events, necessitating replanting of some crop due to crusting.
Canadian farmers reported 11.3% less area seeded to soybeans, compared to a year earlier, with a total of 5.1 million acres in 2020. Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec, the three largest soybean-producing provinces, all reported planting fewer acres.
Manitoba led the decrease in soybean area, down 21.8% from the previous year, to 1.1 million acres in 2020. This marks the second consecutive year of lower seeded acres in the province after peaking in 2017, and the smallest seeded area since 2014. Lower seeded area may also be attributable to poor yields over the past several years.
Farmers in Ontario reported planting 8.5% fewer acres of soybeans at 2.9 million acres, while farmers in Quebec reported planting 885,500 acres of soybeans, down 2.3% from the previous year.
Farmers reported planting 3.7% fewer acres of corn for grain from a year earlier, at 3.6 million acres in 2020.
Ontario, the largest corn-producing province, reported planting 2.2 million acres in 2020, down 0.5% from 2019. Farmers in Quebec reported seeded area falling 5.7% to 890,800 acres. Area seeded to corn for grain in Manitoba decreased 19.0% to 372,300 acres.
Nationally, farmers reported planting 25 million acres of wheat in 2020, up 1.5% from 2019. Higher wheat area was led by durum wheat, which rose 16.2% to 5.7 million acres, while winter wheat increased 45.9% to 1.4 million acres. The increase in durum wheat area may have been attributable to favourable prices and low carry-out stocks from the previous crop year, while the gains in winter wheat area were due to less winter-kill compared with a year earlier. In contrast, spring wheat area fell 4.6% to 17.9 million acres, possibly due to high carry-in stocks from the previous year.
Farmers reported planting 20.8 million acres of canola in 2020, down 0.8% from 2019. Saskatchewan farmers reported planting 11.3 million acres of canola in 2020, down 1.8% from 2019. In Alberta, canola area was down 1.0% from 2019 to 5.9 million acres. Farmers in Manitoba reported that canola area was up 3.2% to 3.4 million acres.
Barley and oats
Total area seeded to barley rose by 1.4% in 2020 to 7.5 million acres, the highest reported seeded area since 2009. The increase was driven by Alberta, where farmers reported planting 2.8% more barley to 3.7 million acres. Farmers in Saskatchewan planted 0.8% less to 3.1 million acres.
Area seeded to oats rose 6.5% to 3.8 million acres in 2020. Saskatchewan, the largest oat-producing province, rose 3.3% to 1.9 million acres compared with 2019. The increase in oats may have been due to strong prices as a result of higher demand.
Lentils and peas
Lentil acres for 2020 are up to 4.2 million acres, an increase of 12% from 2019. Despite ongoing import tariffs imposed by India, higher lentil area may have been due to higher prices. Farmers reported seeding 1.8% fewer dry peas than in 2019 to 4.3 million acres. The decrease was led by Alberta, down 150,100 acres from 2019.
Final acreages estimates for 2020 will be released by StatsCan on December 3, 2020, and will be subject to revision for two years.