Statistics Canada (StatsCan) says wheat acres across Canada will be the highest they’ve been in more than twenty years, while area planted to canola, corn, barley, and soybeans will also climb in 2023.
However there’s an asterisk beside those numbers, as the agency also announced a major change to the methodology behind its seeding intentions report released on Wednesday.
Rather than surveying farmers in March as in the past, StatsCan says the 2023 acreage estimates are based on a farmer survey that was conducted from December 12, 2022, to January 14, 2023.
“This change is part of the ongoing AgZero initiative within the Agriculture Division at Statistics Canada, which aims to assess the feasibility of using alternative methods to produce quality estimates,” the report explains.
The early timing means price declines that have occurred in the meantime, as well as information about crop insurance coverage for 2023, were not accounted for in farmers’ responses to the survey.
With that in mind, StatsCan projects 27.0 million acres of wheat will be seeded in 2023, up 6.2 per cent from last year. Spring wheat area is projected to climb 7.5 per cent, to 19.4 million acres, while winter wheat area is estimated at 1.5 million acres, up 12.7 percent. This would be the largest national wheat area since 2001.
Check out the interview with Jon Driedger, Leftfield Commodity Research, on why these numbers may shift — and in which direction — based on when the survey was done:
Barley acres are expected to increase slightly, to 7.1 million, while oat area is projected to fall by 22.4 per cent to 3.1 million.
Canola acres are pegged at 21.6 million, up 0.9 per cent from 2022.
Soybean acres are estimated at 5.5 million, up 4.5 percent from last year, led by a 37.3 per cent increase in Manitoba (to 1.6 million acres, the highest since 2018.)
Corn (for grain) acres are projected at 3.7 million nationally, with 2.3 million acres in Ontario — a 0.2 per cent increase over the previous provincial record set last year.
As for pulse crops, lentil area is expected to fall 8.0 per cent to 4.0 million acres, while pea area is also projected to fall 4.6 per cent to 3.2 million acres.