Seeded acreage forecasts are often greeted with skepticism and lead to debate, while the March 29 Prospective Planting estimates are no different. Concerns have been expressed about the weather events that took place across many U.S. states during the survey period. There always remains concerns over the accuracy of producer responses in surveys conducted. And, of course, weather conditions following the survey period can also have an effect on actual acres seeded.
The attached chart shows Friday's data released for North Dakota and Montana for selected grains, chosen for their proximity to the Canadian Prairies and because of the many competing crops produced.
One point of interest is that while the USDA has estimated the total seeded area of grains to drop by 1.3% in 2019, Montana's seeded area is forecast to follow suit with a 4.5% drop, while North Dakota could be viewed as the only major producing state where acres are expected to increase, by 1.3%. This has already stirred online debate.
Another interesting point in this state's data is that while a national increase of 4.1% in corn area planted is forecast across the country, North Dakota producers are expected to increase acres by 28.6% or 900,000 acres, the largest year-over-year increase seen on a percentage basis across all states.
As seen on the attached chart, data for North Dakota and Montana are consistent with national data, given that fewer acres of oats, durum, chickpeas and lentils will be seeded this spring. Between the two states, durum acres are expected to fall by 610,000 acres, the largest decline seen across the selected crops, and a surprise given that average of Dow Jone's pre-report estimates called for a very modest drop in acres. The 31.8% drop in durum acres seeded in North Dakota and 31% drop in Montana compare to the current AAFC forecast that points to a forecast 20% drop in Canadian acres. Canada's official Statistics Canada estimates will be released on April 24.
While the average of pre-report estimates called for a year-over-year increase in spring wheat acres, Friday's estimates point to a potential 2.3% increase in North Dakota acres, while Montana acres are expected to be trimmed by 10.3%. Across the nation, spring wheat acres are forecast to fall by 2.8%.
Producers in the two states are leaning towards seeding more flax acres, with North Dakota forecast to boost acres by 75.8% and Montana expected to boost acres by 41%.
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Cliff Jamieson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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