Statistics Canada expects farmers to seed fewer acres of canola this year, which is raising eyebrows in the grain trade.
In March, the federal agency surveyed 11,600 Canadian farmers, including 3,724 in Saskatchewan.
Statistics Canada is forecasting canola area at 21.4 million acres, which is 7 percent below last year’s record of 23 million acres. Pre-report trades estimates ranged between 23.5 million and 24.3 million acres.
Part of the discrepancy could be survey timing. After receiving additional moisture from snow last month, some growers may have decided to change plans and seed a crop with higher financial returns. The other possibility is that farmers were underestimating their canola numbers in the survey.
“That’s a hard question to answer,” chuckles Dustin Gabor, a market advisor based in Gladstone, Manitoba.
There has always been coffee talk about growers not being totally honest when called by Statistics Canada.
“People always say they are fudging the numbers and no one is telling the truth, but I think when the phone call comes, a lot of people are being as honest as they can, if they are willing to report their numbers to begin with,” says Gabor.
Gabor says it’s still early and plans change based on weather and other market factors.
“All week, producers have been texting and calling about the potential margins for each crop. It’s still on people’s mind before they head out there (to seed).”
Market analysts expect a revision in canola area estimates when the next Statistics Canada report is released at the end of June.
Another surprise was a smaller than expected decline in pulse acres. When India imposed import tariffs on lentils and peas last year, many observers were anticipating acreage reductions of 15 to 25 per cent. Statistics Canada reports an 8.1 per cent decline for lentils and 5.5 per cent for peas.
Spring wheat area is forecast to rise 15 percent and durum 11 percent. Barley is up 5 percent, oats down 1.5 percent and soybeans down 11.4 percent.
You can see more information on the national numbers at http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/180427/dq180427a-eng.htm?HPA=1
These are the Saskatchewan seeding estimates released by Statistics Canada:
(number of acres) (difference between 2017)
Canola 11.4 million -10.5%
Soybeans 504 thousand -40.7%
Spring Wheat 8.1 million +17.2%
Durum 4.8 million +17.3%
Lentils 3.6 million -8.4%
Peas 2.2 million +0.3%
Barley 2.5 million +6.0%
Oats 1.5 million -6.7%
Flax 802 thousand -8.9%
Canary seed 223 thousand -12.5%