No sooner had the ink dried on this week's Statistics Canada release of the July 2013 Estimates of Production of Principal Field Crops, when various media and social media reports were released suggesting production could possibly be higher than reported.
There are perhaps many reasons for this. First of all is the timing of the data collection, which took place between July 24 and August 5. Favorable weather since that time has aided crop development and may have led to improved production prospects. Second is the fact yield estimation can be challenging and producers may lean to the conservative side.
The attached chart shows the trend in yields for selected crops by comparing the 2013 Stats Canada estimate with the five-year average and the 10-year average yield. In all five crops, the 2013 estimate exceeds both the five- and 10-year average yields.
Also of interest is the difference between actual yields and the estimated yields as seen in the annual July report. The black markers represent the average of the percent change in yield from the July estimate to the actual yield achieved over the past five years, as measured against the secondary vertical axis on the right. For example, actual production of barley was below the July estimate by 1.7% on average in the 2008 to 2012 period, while the final canola yields were 9.2% higher than the July estimate on average over the past five years.
Other crops include oats, where final yields exceeded the July estimate by an average of 1.6% over the past five years, durum, where actual yields exceeded the July estimate by 9.1% on average over the past five years, and spring wheat, where actual yields exceeded the July estimate by 6.9% on average over the 2008 to 2012 period.
Over the past five years, actual barley yields were below the yields estimated in July three times, actual oat yields were below the July estimate two times and wheat, durum and canola saw their actual yield fall below the July forecast just once.
They say that big crops grow bigger, and this may be the case this year given the tendency for conservative July yield estimates to be followed by larger actual yields.
Cliff Jamieson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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