Statistics Canada Releases Crop Acreage Estimates

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Ending off the month of June, Statistics Canada revised its 2018 Canadian crop acreage estimates. The grain trade generally expected and received updates reflecting an increase in canola area and a trimming of wheat acres relative to its report released in April.

Seeded acreage of the major pulse crops were dialed back slightly, the result of tariffs imposed by India continuing to weigh down the price outlook. Barley acres increased from the April estimate as about expected.

Canola

Canadian farmers reported the intention of seeding 22.7 million acres of canola in 2018, an upward revision of 1.4 million from their previous report, but still down 1.1 per cent from the record 23 million acres seeded in 2017. PFCanada was looking for a number equal to last year, but this was close.

Ultimately, the higher canola number does not change the price outlook as market attention now shifts back to summer weather and emerging global oilseed trade patterns highlighted by United States and China conflict.

Wheat

Canadian farmers reported all wheat seeded area at 24.7 million acres, a 2.2 per cent revision lower from what StatsCan projected in April, but still up 10.4 per cent from last year. Durum wheat though saw an unexpected jump up to 6.19 million acres.

Spring wheat lost about one million acres from the spring report, but the yield and quality outcome from this 2018 crop carries more weight to determining supply and influencing grower returns.

A weak Canadian dollar and an eventual less aggressive export tone from Russia and the European Union should ensure ample wheat export opportunities from Canada.

The durum number comes in higher than the marketplace needs, suggesting a price outlook that continues to grind along at a sideways trend for now. It will likely take some work and time for a price uptrend to assert, but first durum has to find a bottom.

Soybeans

In 2018, the area sown to soybeans is down 13.2 per cent from 2017 to 6.3 million acres. That’s in line with StatsCan’s April estimate, but perhaps at the lower end of trade expectations. The four largest producing provinces in the country – Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec and Saskatchewan – all planted fewer acres.

Barley and oats

Total area seeded to barley rose 12.7 per cent from last year to 6.5 million acres in 2018. Strong winter and spring prices for feed barley likely attracted additional acres.

Canadian farmers reported seeding 3.1 million acres of oats, down 4.8 per cent from 2017. A weak and flat price environment drew away oat acres to other cereal choices. If yield and quality verifies for 2018, I think we can expect the same going nowhere market trend extending for at least six months or more.

Lentils and peas

Canadian farmers reported that areas seeded to lentils decreased 14.5 per cent in 2018 to 3.8 million acres. Acreage seeded to dry peas fell 12 per cent to 3.6 million acres. Both commodities were down 200,000 to 300,000 acres from the April report and coming in closer to what trade ideas were coming into the spring season.

Fundamentally, the price outlook for edible peas is poised to be the first pulse market to reinvigorate, but not until after competitively priced exportable surpluses from the Former Soviet Union states are eroded. My best guess is that lentils still have another year of grind before pricing can shift back up to higher levels.

Bottom line

Canadian crop acreage, according to Statistics Canada for 2018 sees some shifting back to canola and away from spring wheat and pulses.

Source: Farm Credit Canada