Statistics Canada released its early projections for Canada's seeding intentions this morning, based on data collected from 11,500 producers in the March 24 to March 31 period. The expected acreage for many crops was in line with pre-report trade estimates, although the common theme of less wheat, more canola surprised many with a call for less wheat and less canola acres.
The all-wheat (including durum) acreage was reported at 24.8 ma, down from 26.3 ma last year, although within the 23.5 to 25.2 ma trade estimate, as reported by Dow Jones. While producers' dissatisfaction with lack of movement and wide basis levels are undoubtedly behind this move, acres still remain above the five-year average of 23.533 ma.
Durum is estimated at 4.8 ma for 2014, below the 5 ma seeded last year, although while at the upper end of the 4.5 to 4.9 million acre pre-report estimate. The largest cut in wheat acres is an expected one-million-acre cut in spring wheat acres, with over 80% of this cut expected in Saskatchewan.
With the Dow Jones survey pointing to expected canola acreage of 20 to 22 ma for the upcoming season, above the 19.936 ma seeded in 2013, it may have come as a surprise to many when the 2014 acreage of 19.801 ma was reported this morning. Some producers out there are already suggesting "I told you so!", while trade participants on social media circles suggest final acres will be ratcheted higher in the months to come. Over the past five years, actual seeded acres have averaged 5.1% higher than the March intentions report, which could lead to the increase in acres that many in the trade were looking for.
To no one's surprise, a growing interest in pulse acres has swelled for the upcoming crop year, with reported seeding intentions above the increases expected by analysts surveyed in the Dow Jones survey. Dry pea acres were announced at 3.975 ma, above the 3.285 ma planted in 2013 and also above the 3.3 to 3.8 million acre trade estimates. Should this materialize, this would be the second highest dry pea acreage seen in Canada, with just 10,000 acres more seeded in 2008. Close to two-thirds of this increase in expected in Saskatchewan, while the remaining one-third is expected in Alberta.
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Lentil acres are also expected to increase, with acres reported at 2.860 ma, up 19.5% from the 2.393 ma seeded in 2013, while also above the range of trade estimates, indicated at 2.5 to 2.8 ma. While acres are expected to dip 8,000 acres in Alberta, Saskatchewan is expected to increase planted acres by 475,000 acres. Dry bean acres are also expected to increase by 83,000 acres or 39.5% to 293,000 acres, with the increase in acreage split almost evenly between Ontario and Manitoba
Feed buyers will be concerned about the expected drop in barley acres to 6.311 ma, down 10.9% or 771,500 acres from the 7.083 ma seeded in 2013. This is within the 6.1 to 7.2 ma range as indicated by the pre-report trade estimates. According to Statistics Canada data, this would represent the lowest barley acres seen since 1965.
Corn acres across the country are also expected to fall by 320,500 acres or 8.7% to 3.369 ma. The largest drop is seen in Ontario, where acres are expected to fall by 155,000 acres, while in Manitoba, acres are expected to fall by 80,000 acres.
Oat acres fell within trade expectations at 3.188 ma, just 20,000 acres above the final acreage estimate for 2013. Producer dissatisfaction with this winter's lack of movement along with accurate price signals is preventing any significant increase in oat acres, with the largest cut seen in Saskatchewan. Alberta producers are bucking the trend with intentions to seed more acres than in 2013.
Soybeans are enjoying an increasing popularity across the country, with Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan producers planning to plant record acreages. Overall soybean acres for the country are expected to increase 745,500 acres or 16.5% to 5.264 ma. Quebec is set to add 65,500 acres to reach 778,400 acres and Ontario producers are expected to plant 300,000 more acres to reach 2.8 ma. After planting more than one ma for the first time last year, Manitoba producers are expected to increase acreage by 250,000 acres or 24% to reach 1.3 ma. Saskatchewan acres were reported in 2013 for the very first time at 170,000 acres, with the 2014 planting intentions estimated at 300,000 acres, a 76% increase.
Early estimates would suggest a significant increase in interest in flax acres, while there are suggestions of a scramble for planting seed on the Prairies. Flax acres for 2014 were estimated at 1.715 ma, up 66% from the 1.035 ma seeded in 2013. This would be the highest seeded acreage since 2006 when acres were just shy of 2 ma. While expected increases are indicated for all three Prairie Provinces, Saskatchewan is indicated to see acres grow by 620,000 acres or 72%.
While this winter's rail shipping fiasco lead some producers to threaten to seed fewer acres as a potential solution to reduce troublesome Canadian grain supplies, this was not seen in Statistics Canada's estimate for summerfallow acres. In total, summerfallow acres are estimated to fall 505,000 acres to 3.370 ma, with 79% of this drop expected to take place in Saskatchewan. The 10-year average estimate for Canadian summerfallow acres is 7.6 ma.
DTN 360 Poll: Debate will rage on over where canola acres will land this year. What do you think will happen to this crop? You can weigh in on this week's DTN 360 Poll found on the lower right of your DTN Home Page.
Cliff Jamieson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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