Over the years, DTN analysis in this space has pointed to trends that take place in the reporting of Statistics Canada crop data through the growing season. This analysis has been reported in comparison to five-year averages. On Nov. 8, Statistics Canada released a study titled "Effects of the Crop Reporting Cycle on Field Crop Statistics," which looks at these same trends over a longer 10-year period, from 2008 through 2017.
As has been discussed in the past, production estimates tend to grow from the July estimates to the later September estimates, then again to the final November estimates, reported in early December. Over the past 10 years, the percent change in crop size has jumped 2.2% on average for barley and 2.9% for oats from the September estimates to the final estimates released in December. Of the six major crops, these are the smallest adjustments made. On average, the final soybean estimate is reported to be 4.6% higher, the final corn estimate averages 5.3% higher, all-wheat production is revised 6.1% higher and the canola crop estimate is revised 10.6% higher.
The accompanying chart shows the September production estimates released in 2018 (blue bars), while compared to a hypothetical look at final 2018 production (brown bars) when the previous 10-year average percent change (2008 to 2017) is applied to the estimates released in September.
The black line on the attached chart represents the frequency in which the final November estimates have exceeded the September estimates over the past 10 years. Over this period, the final November estimate for Canada's all-wheat production exceeded the September estimate in each of the 10 years, as measured against the secondary vertical axis. Estimated canola production was revised higher in nine of the 10 years, while the lowest frequency reported is oat production, which was revised higher in five of the 10 years in question.
Given this fall's weather challenges and resulting late harvest, this could be one year that deviates from this historical trend. As stated by Statistics Canada, "The weather variations captured between the July and September preliminary production estimates and the November final productions contributed to the variability between the survey results."
The report indicates that late-season weather events leading to deficient or excessive precipitation or temperatures form the majority of the variability reported. In their November World Crop Report, private economics firm Informa reduced their production estimates for the six crops shown on Wednesday's graphic to levels that would result in a cut in the estimated production reported by Statistics Canada earlier in the fall.
One point that does not come up in the report is any potential trends in accessing reliable information. A quick glance at one producer chat site would suggest that some producers are not entirely supportive of the service and will go to lengths to avoid the "stalkers" who are after data.
Statistics Canada has also faced harsh criticism across the country in recent weeks with an announcement that they will force Canada's banks to release detailed banking information for 500,000 Canadians, without consent, to meet their data needs. The Globe and Mail reported on Tuesday that 74% of Canadians polled either oppose or are somewhat opposed to Statistics Canada accessing personal banking information without permission. Negative press surrounding this issue will do little to help the agency's cause when attempting to obtain reliable industry-specific information.
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