2017 Canadian crop acreage prospects

Market Focus

Highlights

  • Acreage usually falls secondary to yield in determining ultimate crop output
  • Despite more acres in 2017, the canola market is still coming to terms with a tightening old crop supply
  • Canadian spring wheat acreage can rise, not because it's a profit leader, but because it's a default cropping option

Statistics Canada issued its first estimates of 2017 Canadian crop acreage of the season on April 21. The numbers suggest Canadian farmers expect to plant record acres of canola and soybeans, as well as more spring wheat and oats in 2017, but fewer acres of durum wheat and lentils, crops that were both at high levels in 2016. The survey of seeding intentions was taken from 11,600 Canadian farmers conducted from March 16 to March 31.

Canola

Canadian farmers are expecting to seed monster acres to canola in 2017, up to a potential record-high 22.4 million acres. That's up over 9.9 per cent from last year.

It's no surprise that we see higher canola acres, but this number did come in at the high end of trade expectations. It's notable that the acreage gains are heavily biased to Saskatchewan and Alberta, while Manitoba farmers are forgoing canola in order to planting more soybeans.

Canadian farmers are expecting to seed monster acres to canola in 2017, up to a potential record-high 22.4 million acres

From an economic standpoint, farmers are going into canola and focusing on returns-per-acre this year. Canola is historically the commodity that pays the bills. With disease issues for cereal crops and uncertain demand prospects for pulses, canola still stands as one of those lone beacons - a commodity that, as long as it yields well, will probably generate a profit.

The current market is still coming to terms with a tightening old crop supply situation which continues to support prices.

Soybeans

Nationally, farmers intend to seed a record seven million acres of soybeans, up 27.2 per cent from 2016.

Manitoba shows the largest expected increase in area, up 34.6 per cent to 2.2 million acres. That's another potential record high for this province. Ontario farmers anticipate seeding three million acres, a rise of 11.4 per cent over 2016, while Quebec's acreage is expected to grow to a possible record high of 926,600 acres, up 15.4 per cent over 2016.

Wheat

Canadian farmers intend to seed 23.2 million acres of all varieties of wheat in 2017, relatively unchanged from the area seeded in 2016.

There was a sense in pre-report estimates that Canadian wheat acres would follow with the trend to lower acreage seen in the United States, but that is not the case.

Any wheat acreage decline in Canada is nearly exclusively durum wheat, one million acres lower from 2016 to five million acres for 2017. Hard red spring wheat acres in Canada are expected by StatsCan to rise 1.3 million to 16.6 million.

Our view is that Canadian spring wheat acreage can rise, not because it's a profit leader, but rather spring wheat is a default cropping option because acreage of others like barley, lentils and durum are lower.

Pulses

A record 5.9 million acres of lentils were seeded in 2016, that will be trimmed by 25 per cent to 4.4 million in 2017.

Field pea acreage is projected 3.989 million acres, down 5.9 per cent from last year.

There is some uncertainty in the pulse trade given stressed trade relations with India. However, farmers are still satisfied enough return per acre potential, low inputs and rotational benefits of incorporating pulses in their rotations. PFCanada believes that field pea area is likely to rise.

Barley and oats

Canadian farmers across almost all provinces report that they intend to seed less barley in 2017, down eight per cent to 5.9 million acres. Areas seeded to oats are expected to rise 20.6 per cent over 2016 to 3.4 million acres. The only exception is Alberta, where farmers plan to seed 690,000 acres, a 4.2 per cent decrease from 2016.

Wrap

Weather issues may still, and likely will, lead to acreage adjustments over the next six to eight weeks, especially as many fields in Western Canada still have unharvested crops left over from 2016.

At the end of the day, weather matters the most. And while acreage considerations play into estimates of harvest potential, acreage usually falls secondary to yield in determining crop output.

Mike Jubinville of Pro Farmer Canada offers information on commodity markets and marketing strategies.
Call 204-654-4290 or visit www.pfcanada.com to find out more about his services.

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