StatsCan acreage report: Barley booms, lentils linger, spring wheat slumps, and contrary canola

It’s a big day when the Statistics Canada acreage report is released for all the major field crops in Canada.

To understand if the numbers are above or below expectations, Shaun Haney is joined by Jon Driedger, grain market analyst with LeftField Commodity Research.

To start the conversation off, canola acres are up from last year, but perhaps that number is below where some analysts thought it would be.

“Long story short, it comes in at about 21.5 million, really below the range of trade estimates coming in,” says Driedger. “I think the average expectation was around 22.5-ish, give or take.”

Looking at just canola price, canola acres should be somewhere between 24 to 25 million acres, but of course agronomic and rotational considerations, as well as the price of other crops., will have factored into the low number. Current new crop prices look good, so it makes it easier to stay honest to the rotation, or seed something more suited to drier conditions (hello, mustard!).

While canola was up 3.6 per cent from last year’s number, spring wheat is slumping down 8.8 per cent for 16.34 million acres forecasted. Driedger isn’t surprised by this number since wheat acres would take the brunt and would lose around the margins — it sort of becomes the victim of where acres bleed out, he says.

Before thinking that all cereals are losing out this year though, barley acres are up 13.9 per cent, for a total forecasted 8.6 million acres.

“In some ways we were hearing that barley acres were going to be up, and I think certainly, the market was providing a real strong incentive for farmers to plant barley, and I think in many ways it probably makes a lot of sense,” says Driedger. “It’s one that farmers are confident selling aggressively ahead of time — you maybe get good fall movement. You can grow it, sell it, move it — and so from a farm marketing perspective, it’s a good opportunity.”

Hear the full conversation between Driedger and RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney, story continues below player: 

From a Western Canadian perspective, Statistics Canada says Manitoba soybean producers will plant more acres this year — up 17.3 per cent from last year, back to 1.3 million acres. Driedger isn’t shocked by this number either, saying it’s quite a bit less than what was grown a few years ago, and is maybe repairing the “deep loss” of seeded acres.

Lentil acres are flat compared to last year, which is close to what LeftField Commodity Research thought they would be. Fewer reds will likely get planted this year and we’ll see a bump in green lentils, although the breakdown of each isn’t provided in the report, says Driedger. Chickpea and field pea acres are also down quite a bit, but that could spell good prices for peas.

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