Grain corn, feed crops seen up in StatsCan survey

Production of major field crops, except for spring wheat, canola and flaxseed, should improve from 2006 estimates as a result of increases in harvested acreage, according to a survey of Prairie growers.

In Eastern Canada, grain corn production is expected to hit a record high in both Ontario and Quebec despite continued dry conditions.
Data came from the annual September survey of 17,000 farmers conducted by Statistics Canada from September 4 to 11.

At the time of the survey, about one-half of the harvest was complete in the Prairie provinces, with the most progress reported in southern areas. In many central and northern regions, the harvest has been delayed by cool, wet conditions.

In Quebec and Ontario, uneven distribution of precipitation has continued to take a toll on field crops. Nevertheless, field corn production is still estimated to hit record levels in both provinces, the result of above-average harvested areas. Soybean production is expected to decline.

Wheat

Prairie farmers reported that they expect to harvest an estimated 15.3 million tonnes of wheat excluding durum, a decline of 19.6 per cent, or 3.7 million tonnes, from 2006. The five-year average is 16.3 million tonnes.

The harvested area is expected to fall 16.6 per cent, and the yield may be down by 1.3 bushels per acre to 36.1 bushels per acre. The five-year average yield is 35.1 bushels per acre.

Production is expected to fall in all three Prairie provinces and remain below their five-year averages. Potential declines range from 23.5 per cent in Saskatchewan to 15.0 per cent in Manitoba.

At the same time, durum wheat production is expected to rise 8.0 per cent to an estimated 3.6 million tonnes, an increase of 268,000 tonnes from 2006. This is the result of a strong gain in the harvested area to 4.8 million acres. Despite the increases in harvested area, strong decreases in yield may cause production to remain below the five-year average of 4.4 million tonnes.

Provincially, durum production is anticipated to rise by 8.9 per cent in Saskatchewan to an estimated 2.9 million tonnes, and in Alberta by 4.3 per cent to 685,800 tonnes.

Oilseeds

Prairie canola production could slip in 2007, while flaxseed production is expected to fall.

Farmers reported that canola production could decline a slight 2.2 per cent to an estimated 8.8 million tonnes, the result of an expected drop in yield of 3.6 bushels per acre. The drop in production may occur despite an anticipated record harvest area of 14.2 million acres. The previous record was 14.1 million acres reported in 1994.

In Manitoba, production could fall to 1.7 million tonnes, down 6.8 per cent from 2006. This may occur despite an expected record harvested area of 2.8 million acres.

And in Saskatchewan, canola production is anticipated to rise 7.4 per cent to 4.0 million tonnes, the result of an increase in harvested area to a record 7.1 million acres. The previous record harvested acreage of 6.6 million acres was set in 1999.

In Alberta, farmers reported a possible 10.0 per cent reduction in canola production to 3.1 million tonnes, the result of a 8.9 per cent drop in yield to 30.7 bushels per acre. In all three Prairie provinces, production is expected to remain above the five-year average.

Despite dry and variable conditions experienced in the Prairies, some experts point out that new canola seed varieties are more tolerant to adverse conditions.

Prairie flaxseed production is expected to fall 36.8 per cent to 625,400 tonnes, the result of a comparable drop in harvested area. This would be the lowest production estimate reported since 2004. Production should decline in all Prairie provinces and remain below the corresponding five-year averages.

Provincially, declines ranged from 34.3 per cent in Saskatchewan to 47.4 per cent in Alberta.

Feed grains

The production of barley, oats and field peas should all rise in the Prairie provinces this year, the result of strong increases in harvested area.

Prairie barley production should jump to above-average levels this year. This would be the result of gains in estimated harvest area to above-average acreage, and an average cut for silage.

Barley production is estimated at 11.1 million tonnes, up 2.2 million tonnes from 2006 and well above the five-year average of 9.7 million tonnes. Yields will continue to be slightly above average at 53.8 bushels per acre. Farmers in all three Prairie provinces anticipate gains in production this year.

Oat production on the Prairies should jump 33.0 per cent to 4.5 million tonnes, an increase of 1.1 million tonnes from 2006. This is attributed to an improvement in yield and a 23.8 per cent increase in harvest area. The five-year production average is 2.9 million tonnes.

Gains in oat production are anticipated in all three Prairie provinces, with increases ranging from 44.5 per cent in Saskatchewan to 10.9 per cent in Alberta. In all cases, production could be above their provincial five-year averages.

Dry field pea production should rise 20.1 per cent to an estimated 3.0 million tonnes, up 506,000 tonnes. A strong increase in harvested area to a record 3.6 million acres was responsible for the gain. The record production is 3.1 million tonnes set in 2004.

Provincially, the results were mixed. Saskatchewan farmers reported a potential 27.9 per cent increase in production to 2.4 million tonnes, the result of a record harvest area of 2.9 million acres. The previous record area was 2.5 million acres set in 2005.

On the other hand, farmers in Manitoba reported an 8.0 per cent decrease in production, and Alberta farmers reported a possible slight decline of 0.8 per cent. The declines were the result of anticipated decreases in yield.

Corn and soybeans

Farmers in Ontario and Quebec expect to produce a record amount of corn for grain in 2007, despite the difficult growing conditions many have faced. Farmers have planted record or near-record areas of corn for grain, mainly at the expense of soybean acreage.

Quebec farmers could produce a record 3.7 million tonnes of corn for grain this year, an increase of 37.0 per cent, or 1.0 million tonnes, over 2006. The previous record was 3.5 million tonnes set in 2003. The main factors were an increase in expected yield of 17.3 bushels per acre to a near-record 132.0 bushels per acre, and a record harvested area of 1.1 million acres.

In Ontario, corn-for-grain production could enter record territory at 6.4 million tonnes, up 8.2 per cent or 482,600 tonnes. The previous record was 6.0 million tonnes set in 1998. This increase was the result of a 34.2 per cent rise in the harvested area to an estimated 2.1 million acres.

Soybean production in Quebec and Ontario is expected to fall. The largest decline was reported by Ontario farmers, where challenging weather conditions are expected to reduce soybean yields.

In Quebec, production is forecast to drop 8.4 per cent to 490,000 tonnes, the result of a comparable percentage decline in harvested area. The five-year average for Quebec soybean production is 453,000 tonnes.

Ontario farmers expect a 21.4 per cent decline to 2.1 million tonnes from the 2006 record production of 2.7 million tonnes. This is the result of an 11.3 bushel per acre drop in yield. The five-year average production estimate is 2.3 million tonnes.

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