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Spring wheat outlook seen taking back seat

(Resource News International) — World fundamentals are generally
supportive for durum and even winter wheat, but spring
wheat acreage is expected to suffer in Canada during the upcoming
2008-09 crop year.

“The extra winter wheat and durum plantings will come at the
expense of spring wheat in the spring of 2008,” said market analyst Greg Kostal of
Kostal Ag Consulting in a presentation during Crop Production Week in Saskatoon.

He acknowledged winter wheat acres in Western Canada
have already been established and while the final numbers were

still being tabulated, the figures are expected to show a
substantial jump.

Winter wheat area in Western Canada in the fall of 2007 was
believed to have jumped at least five per cent from the year-ago level, said Jake
Davidson, executive manager with Winter Cereals Canada.

Winter wheat seeding in the fall of 2006 totalled roughly
1.1 million acres, according to data from Statistics Canada. In the
fall of 2005, winter wheat area in Western Canada totalled
690,000 acres.

The jump in winter wheat area was encouraged by a number of
factors, Kostal said.
One was that winter wheat is not as exposed
to diseases such as fusarium and to insect damage.

The crop also spreads the work load around for producers and
typically yields more.

Findings have shown that winter wheat in Western
Canada have generally been yielding 40 per cent more than spring wheat
varieties, Kostal noted.

“The additional yields compensates for the lower price
received by winter wheat varieties,” he said.

Kostal also pointed out that spring wheat yield improvements

and yield genetics have just not kept up with the developments winter wheat and durum wheat varieties have experienced.

Durum area was also expected to gain at the expense of
spring wheat, Kostal said.

“Durum area in the spring of 2008 could easily be up a
couple of million acres based on current economic signals,”
Kostal said. In the spring of 2007, 4.815 million acres were
seeded to durum, Statistics Canada figures show.

Of the potential two million-acre increase in durum, two-
thirds of that area will be drawn from spring wheat, he said.

Durum plantings were also expected to draw some area out of
barley and possibly oats as well, Kostal said.

“As Western Canadian producers begin bundling all the
factors that are supportive of wheat varieties other than spring
wheat, and experiencing consistently longer-term growth benefits,
the trend of lower spring wheat area will continue,” Kostal said.

Even though prices for spring wheats have
climbed considerably, he said, the value has just not been “juicy” enough
to remain attractive for producers.

Spring wheat area in Canada in the spring of 2007 totalled
15.215 million acres, Statistics Canada figures show.

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