While Canadian farmers will produce more wheat and a record-large canola crop in 2011, according to Statistic Canada, Manitoba’s crop production will be well below average.
StatsCan estimated in its Aug. 24 report based on a July 11 survey all-wheat production of 24.076 million tonnes, up nearly four per cent from a year ago, and the canola harvest at a record 13.193 million tonnes, up 11 per cent.
Manitoba’s estimated all-wheat production of almost 2.3 million tonnes will be down 30 per cent from last year and 36 per cent below the 10-year average.
StatsCan puts Manitoba canola production at 1.7 million tonnes, down almost 22 per cent from 2010 and eight per cent below the 10-year average.
“It’s pretty disappointing,” Keystone Agricultural Producers’ president Doug Chorney said in an interview last week.
Excessive moisture this spring delayed seeding in much of Manitoba and record three million acres – most of them in southwestern Manitoba – weren’t seeded because they were too wet.
Around East Selkirk where Chorney farms, seeding got off to a better start than in many areas.
“Then it rained and flooded every low spot and then it stopped raining completely,” Chorney said, alluding to the near-drought conditions that followed in July and August.
Chorney said his spring wheat averaged 40 bushels an acre, well below the 50 he expects to normally get.
A 40-acre field of canola averaged 22.6 bushels an acre – one of his worst yields ever, he added.
Farmers in some parts of Manitoba have excellent crops, Chorney noted, but the poor crops and unseeded acres will reduce total production dramatically.
“Our advice as an organization is to take advantage of all the business risk management tools that are out there like crop insurance,” Chorney said. “When we get these extreme weather years, which we seem to be getting more often, you need to take every precaution possible.”
StatsCan’s estimates for other Manitoba crops in tonnes with the percentage drop from last year in parenthesis: Oats – 481,200 (-11); Barley – 324,400 (-33); Flax – 38,100 (-53); Corn – 373,400 (-22); Soybeans – 405,500 (-6).
Yield estimates of most crops for Canada in total were better than expected, bumping up production estimates, said Ken Ball, commodities and options broker at Union Securities in Winnipeg.
“There’s some whopping good crops on the Prairies,” he said. “Two-thirds of my customers are expecting their best crops in all history.”
Growing conditions have been “dead perfect” in many areas, Ball said, with most of Saskatchewan receiving warm weather and timely rains.
The increase in all-wheat production is due to an expected boost in durum production by nearly one-quarter, to 3.749 million tonnes, with the spring wheat harvest expected to slip 0.7 per cent from last year to 17.37 million tonnes.
The forecast for a slightly smal ler Canadian spr ing wheat harvest comes even as Minneapolis spr ing wheat futures have spiked higher several times in the past week on concerns about the U.S. crop.
“It’s cer tainly not going to put a bearish spin on the Minneapolis market and now it’s a question of whether that crop gets smaller,” said Darren Frank, market analyst at FarmLink Marketing Solutions, adding that StatsCan may have overestimated spring wheat yields.
Canada is the world’s biggest exporter of spring wheat, durum, canola and oats.
StatsCan’s canola estimate, although record large, still fell about 400,000 tonnes short of the average trade estimate, and ICE Canada canola futures rose after the report’s release.
Partly offsetting favour-able conditions in most of Saskatchewan and Alberta, many crops did not even get planted in southeastern Saskatchewan and southwestern Manitoba due to flooding.
Saskatchewan farmers left 8.5 million acres fallow, fewer than last year but the second-highest total in 12 years.
Much of the land that farmers did seed, however, looks to be productive. StatsCan estimated an average spring wheat yield of 41 bushels per acre across
– Ken Ball
Canada, slightly exceeding last year’s yield.
Canola yield is estimated at 32.3 bushels per acre on average across Canada, down slightly from a year ago, but relatively strong considering the excessively wet conditions in which some farmers planted the crop.
Oat production looks to reach 2.886 million tonnes, StatsCan said, up one-quarter from last year’s poor harvest of 2.3 million tonnes and in line with trade expectations.
Barley production is forecast to climb nearly nine per cent to 8.274 million tonnes, in line with expectations.
“There’ssomewhoppinggoodcropsonthe Prairies.Two-thirdsofmycustomersare expectingtheirbestcropsinallhistory.”