StatsCan’s acreage update seen as starting point

(Resource News International) — Statistics Canada’s seeding intentions report, to be released June 23, is widely expected to be inaccurate, given that the survey was done about a month ago when producers across Canada were still optimistic about how much seed they’d get into the ground.

“The (report will) not reflect the true market scenario and I don’t think the trade is going to put a great deal of stock into the numbers,” said Mike Jubinville, a Winnipeg analyst with ProFarmer Canada.

However, some market watchers think StatsCan will have factored in the wet weather conditions since it conducted its survey and changed its acreage estimates accordingly.

“They will probably take into account some of the unseeded acres on this report and they will also do more acreage adjustments on the August report,” said Jerry Klassen, manager of GAP Grains and Products in Winnipeg.

Others, say the report will be a good basis point to use. Chuck Penner, president of Leftfield Commodity Research, said he will take the new numbers and subtract what percentage was lost from them for a more accurate guideline. 

The report, he said, is “a new level of what farmers were planning to seed and, for example, if they only got 85 per cent of their crop planted, you then work from that number instead of the StatsCan numbers (released in April).”

Pre-report estimates peg Canadian canola area in 2010 at 13.25 million to 15 million acres, a significant drop from the estimated acreage in StatsCan’s April report of 16.907 million.

The decline is due to the record rainfall in northeastern parts of Saskatchewan, a key canola producing area, analysts said. Total seeded acreage in 2009 was reportedly 16.199 million acres.

As for the acres that did get seeded this year, market participants are not confident about the yield potential.

“There is an awful pile of acres that are in waterlogged soils clearly losing yields right now… some of those acres might be shown as seeded initially but will end up being lost,” said Ron Frost, business development manager with Agri-Trend Marketing.

All wheat area was estimated at 18 million to 20 million acres by analysts. Of that total durum acres are predicted to account for 3.2 million to 3.3 million acres. All wheat acres reached 24.456 million in 2009, while durum acres were 5.66 million.

“Durum country”

Penner expects that most of the durum acres originally expected to be seeded made it into the ground, despite adverse weather. Areas where the crop is typically grown didn’t see as much rainfall as other regions in Canada, he said.

“A good chunk of where the durum is produced wasn’t hit quite as bad. The worst part of unseeded acreage is more northern, in northeastern Saskatchewan, and that’s not durum country… probably close to 90 per cent of the durum was put in.”

Estimates for seeded barley area ranged from 6.6 million to 7.5 million acres, which compared to the estimated 8.344 million released in April from StatsCan. Barley acres in 2009 were 8.663 million.

An even bigger drop was expected to be seen in the area seeded to flaxseed. Analysts predicted between one million and 1.1 million acres of flax made it into the ground compared to 1.435 million predicted in April by StatsCan, and 1.71 million from 2009.

Flaxseed, Penner said, “tends to be the crop that gets planted last so it just got delayed, that was one of the (crops) that really suffered from the weather.”

Oats is another crop expected to see a dramatic drop in acreage, with an estimated seeding intention of 2.8 million to 3.5 million acres compared to 3.992 million from StatsCan’s April report.

Estimates for pea area ranged from 2.5 million to 3.3 million acres, compared to 3.76 million from 2009, while the average market calls for lentil acreage to be around 2.5 million, compared to 2.4 million from one year ago.

The estimated seeded acreage predicted by industry participants for all crops typically took a downward trend compared to StatsCan’s original numbers published in April. A turn in weather at the beginning of June left producers unable to gain access to cropland due to soil moisture, leaving a large percentage of acres unseeded across Canada.

“It’s a very unusual situation. It’s unprecedented the amount of acres that have been lost here,” said Jubinville.

“The conditions we have now are excess for any crop. It doesn’t matter if it’s lentils, spring wheat, or durum or canola. You can’t grow anything when it’s flooding,” said Klassen.

Table 1. Pre-report trade estimates (millions of acres)

  Pre-report April Year-ago
  estimates 2010 2009
Canola 13.250 – 15.000    16.907   16.199
All wheat 18.000 – 20.000 23.221 24.456
— Durum 3.200 – 3.300 3.685 5.660
Barley 6.600 – 7.500 8.344 8.663
Flaxseed    1.000 – 1.100 1.435 1.710
Oats 2.800 – 3.500 3.992 3.731
Peas 2.500 – 3.300 3.620 3.760
Lentils 2.500 2.875 2.400

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