Canada Markets

Statistics Canada Releases Preliminary Seeded Acre Estimates

Cliff Jamieson
By  Cliff Jamieson , Canadian Grains Analyst
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This chart compares 2018 seeded acres (blue bars) to the March intentions (brown bars) and the June preliminary estimates (grey bars) released on June 26 for selected crops. Since the March report, the largest changes resulted in a lower revision in acres to be seeded to spring wheat, durum and canola, while upward revisions were made to the planted area for barley, oats, peas and lentils. (DTN graphic by Cliff Jamieson)

Statistics Canada released their June 2019 Principal field crop areas report on June 26, revising seeded acre estimates based on producer surveys conducted between May 14 and June 11. Unlike the March report, this report includes survey results from five smaller-producing provinces, which Statistics Canada estimates to account for 2% to 4% of total production. During the survey period, planting progress across all three prairie provinces was ahead of their respective average pace, although as discussed, this week in daily DTN commentary, estimates for eastern Canada will be viewed as suspect due to excessive rainfall that will lead to unseeded acres this season.

Statistics Canada's all-wheat estimate was reported at 24.595 million acres, down .6% from 2018, as compared to the more optimistic March intentions estimate that called for a 3.8% increase from 2018. This area is below the pre-report trade estimate of 25-26 million acres. When compared to the March intentions, the year-over-year increase in spring wheat acres is lower than estimated earlier in the spring with an 8.4% increase to 18.8 million acres, while durum acres are expected to fall more than initially thought with a 20.9% drop to 4.894 million acres.

At 18.772 million acres, the spring wheat area is the largest in six years and the second highest acreage seeded since 2002. Acres of winter wheat remaining were mysteriously revised from 1.265 million acres in March to 929,000 acres in June. This could point to the first time since 2002 that acres of winter wheat have slipped below 1 million acres and indicate a higher than expected level of abandonment and/or challenges in estimating this smaller acreage crop.

Plugging Wednesday's acreage revisions into current AAFC supply and demand tables, leaving all other assumptions unchanged, would suggest that ending stocks of durum will fall slightly more than expected to roughly 1.2 million metric tons (mmt) in 2019-20, while ending stocks of wheat excluding durum will increase less than expected to roughly 4 mmt. Combined, Canada's all-wheat ending stocks would fall by 200,000 mt from the 5.4 mmt estimated for 2019-20 to 5.2 mmt, although this analysis utilizes AAFC's yield and demand assumptions, which are highly uncertain at this time. Historic drought in the south-central areas of Saskatchewan along with late rains across most of the prairies is likely to weigh on yield potential.

Statistics Canada estimated canola acres at 20.952 million acres, down from 22.813 million seeded in 2018 and the 21.314 million estimated in March. This came in near the upper-end of the range of pre-report estimates of 19.8 million acres to 21.35 million acres, with recent Dow Jones commentary indicating that the seeded area could fall as much as 500,000 acres from the estimate released in March as compared to this report's 362,000-acre drop.

This area is 3.3% lower than the five-year average. When this area is plugged into current AAFC supply and demand tables, utilizing current assumptions, ending stocks of canola will end close to unchanged from the current estimate of 3.9 mmt, although both yield and trade potential remain as wildcards.

Since the March intentions report was released, Statistics Canada has revised higher the estimate for the area seeded to both oats and barley. Oat acres are revised higher to 3.606 million acres, the highest area seeded to the crop in 10 years and higher than the range of pre-report estimates of 3.1 to 3.4 million acres. This is up 18.1% from the area planted in 2018 and is the largest percentage increase seen since 2002.

The estimate for barley acres was also revised higher to 7.402 million acres, which would be the largest area seeded in seven years. This estimate is at the upper-end of the 7 to 7.5 million acres range of pre-report estimates while well-above the 6.493 million acres seeded in 2018 and the March estimate of 7.155 million acres. This area would be the second consecutive double-digit increase in seeded acres, while ending stocks should grow more than expected in current AAFC estimates.

Wednesday's report points to an expected year-over-year increase in the area planted to both lentils and peas. The area expected to be seeded to lentils has been revised higher since the March estimates to a level that is fractionally higher than 2018 and ending a two-year decline. The area seeded to dry peas is expected to rise by 19.8% to a record 4.333 million acres, with strong movement to China a supportive feature.

As expected, and by Statistics Canada's admission, the area planted to row crops will be viewed as suspect due to late planting in eastern Canada. This is also consistent with the line of thinking ahead of Friday's USDA Acreage report, with Statistics Canada stating, "some estimates provided by farmers in eastern Canada may have been intentions at the time of the survey." Planting deadlines for insurance purposes for both corn and soybeans for most of Ontario was extended to dates that fell after the survey period.

The June preliminary estimates show a 100,000-acre reduction in the area seeded to corn since the March estimates to 3.694 million acres, an area that is up 1.9% from 2018. Current estimates point to a year-over-year increase in acres seeded to corn in Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba.

At the same time, the area for soybeans was increased by 68,000 acres from the March estimate to 5.714 million acres, down 9.6% from the total area seeded in 2018. Acreage is estimated to fall in both Quebec and Manitoba, while a modest increase of acres in Ontario of 94,500 acres may remain suspect due to planting challenges.

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