There were a few firsts or records reached in Thursday's Statistics Canada Principal field crop areas, June 2017 report. Seeded acres for both canola and soybean acres are estimated at record levels, while for the first time, estimated canola acres are higher than all-wheat acres combined.
Canola acres were estimated at a record 22.8 million acres, which would be 12.1%, or 2.4 million acres, higher than estimated for 2016 and above pre-report estimates, which were pointing to a 22 million-acre crop, which was less than shown in the March estimates. While Saskatchewan and Alberta producers pushed acreage to record highs of 12.610 million acres and 6.930 million acres, respectively, Manitoba producers pared acres by 35,000 acres, to 3.120 million acres. The market seemed unconcerned by this news, with the Nov/Dec spread weakening only slightly, while the November contract closed $2.30/metric ton higher. As seen on the attached chart, canola can now be viewed as the king of Canadian crops, with acres surpassing Canada's all-wheat acres for the first time ever.
Increased enthusiasm in oilseed production was also seen in soybeans, with acres expected to jump from 5.4 million to a record 7.282 million, up 33.2%. This is the largest percentage increase seen for the crop since 1977. All major producing provinces are seen boosting acres: Quebec showed a 22.5% increase, to 983,500 acres; Ontario a 13.5% increase, to 3.075 million acres; Manitoba a 40.1% increase, to 2.290 million acres; and Saskatchewan, with a year-over-year increase of 245%, to 850,000 acres. More and more, soybeans can be viewed as a western crop with Saskatchewan and Manitoba acres exceeding the acres seeded in Ontario for the first time ever.
Canada's all-wheat acres fell more than expected in pre-report estimates to 22.4 million acres, down 851,000 acres or 3.7% from 2016. This would be the lowest acres seeded since 2011, with a 2.5% increase in spring wheat to 15.8 million acres offset with a 15.9% decrease in durum acres to 5.2 million acres, a smaller drop than expected in pre-report estimates. Winter wheat remaining acres also fell 15.6%, to 1.364 million acres, representing 90% of seeded acres last fall which is a three-year low. On a percentage basis, Manitoba winter wheat remaining represents only 50% of seeded acres at 70,000 acres.
Overall, producers boosted acres seeded to hard red spring wheat for the first time in four years to 13.845 million acres. Acres dedicated to other spring wheat also increased slightly, while extra strong, prairie spring and soft white acres were trimmed. Manitoba producers reduced acres dedicated to HRS, while producers in Saskatchewan and Alberta should benefit from increased acres.
Canada's corn acres were estimated to grow by 7.5% over the past year to 3.575 million acres, close to pre-report estimates. The largest producer, Ontario, is expected to have increased acres by 4.7%, to 2.120 million acres, the largest in four years, which may have raised some eyebrows given the late and wet start. On a percentage basis, Manitoba is estimated to grow that province's acres by 18%, the largest of any province, to a record 410,000 mt.
Canada's barley acreage is estimated to fall by 9.7%, to 5.771 million acres, a larger cut than expected in pre-report estimates and the smallest acreage reported since 1964, much to the dismay of the feed industry. Barley is slowly becoming a two-province crop, with Manitoba estimated to seed 265,000 acres, while Saskatchewan is expected to seed 2.325 million acres and Alberta to seed 2.850 million acres, with combined acres representing 90% of the crop.
While the acres dedicated to oats increased by 9.7%, to 3.2 million acres, the highest in two years, pre-report estimates were looking for more acres. Manitoba producers expanded acres by 44% to 540,000 acres, the highest acres seeded in seven years. Saskatchewan producers are seen increasing acres by 20% to 1.660 million acres, while Alberta producers trimmed acres slightly to 690,000 acres.
Acres seeded to dry peas and lentils are estimated to fall in 2017, although Statistics Canada's estimates were roughly equal to pre-report estimates. Dry pea acres are expected to fall by 3.4%, to 4.093 million acres, while lentil acres are expected to fall by 24.8% to 4.405 million acres.
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