Statistics Canada released March planting intentions estimates on May 7, which also included caveats. Originally scheduled for release on April 24, the release was delayed as the agency switched their focus to "mission critical programs" tied to the COVID-19 outbreak. While the intention was for a March 1 through March 30 survey period, "estimates for this release were produced in March under exceptional circumstances due to COVID-19" and some forms of collection methods halted on March 16. The end result was a drop in responses, and Statistics Canada reports that "caution should be exercised when using these estimates."
Canada's all-wheat acres (including durum and winter wheat remaining) are expected to increase by 3.3% in 2020 to 25.427 million acres. This would be the highest acres seeded in seven years while is slightly lower than the previously released AAFC estimate of 25.773 million acres. While spring wheat acres are forecast to remain close to unchanged from 2019, down 0.1% to 18.772 ma, durum acres are forecast to increase 6.8% to 5.228 ma and winter wheat is forecast to rise by 53.6% to 1.427 ma.
It is interesting to note that the increase in durum acres falls far short of the 15% increase forecast earlier by AAFC. A rise in winter wheat acres seeded last fall was a contributing factor, while the largest factor was the favorable winter and spring conditions, with 91% of the country's winter wheat acres reported to remain, which compares to just 69% of acres remaining in the spring of 2019, largely tied to Ontario were 76% of the remaining winter wheat acres exist.
While there were varied opinions on canola acres leading up to this report, Statistics Canada reported a 1.6% drop to 20.6 ma, which would be a third consecutive drop and the lowest in seven years. (Note that Statistics Canada has deemed this the second annual drop, which does not agree with their data.) This drop is in line with the 2.1% drop forecast earlier by AAFC.
While AAFC had previous]y estimated dry pea and lentil acres to remain steady, Statistics Canada estimated lentil acres to fall by 1.9% to 3.7 ma and dry pea acres to fall by 1.2% to 4.3 ma. Firm prices for peas and lentils this spring, for both old crop and new crop, will undoubtedly lead to higher interest and upcoming reports will show upward revisions.
While Statistics Canada does not acknowledge this, their 3.2% increase in estimated corn acres planted would represent a fresh record, largely due to an increase in Ontario while Manitoba growers are expected to trim acres by 5%. This opposes the 2.4% drop in acres found in the AAFC forecast for April, while concerns linked to ethanol demand, feed demand and export demand for North American corn will likely have a negative effect on producers' intentions. In recent weeks, Ontario Agriculture made a brief reference to producers switching away from corn to spring cereals.
Canada's soybean acres are estimated to fall by 8.7% to 5.220 ma, which would be the lowest in seven years, with a forecast drop in seeded acres seen for Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, while a modest increase is forecast for Alberta. This is a steeper drop in acres than the 3.6% drop forecast by AAFC, although a weaker fundamental outlook for corn in recent months may temper the actual drop in soybean acres.
Statistics Canada has estimated Canada's oat acres to increase by 6.3% to 3.833 ma, which would be the largest in 12 years. This is consistent with the AAFC forecast, which forecast an even larger 8.9% increase. Like AAFC, Thursday's Statistics Canada data points to a modest drop in barley acres, forecast down 2.1% to 7.250 ma.
The next Statistics Canada report on seeded acres is based on June surveys, for release on June 29.
Cliff Jamieson can be reached at email@example.com
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