Wheat acres set to climb in Canada

Attractive prices and weather issues are expected to help farmers in Canada look seriously at seeding more acres to wheat this summer than in previous years, according to industry sources.

"Last year a lot of farmers took a chance with canola given the high financial returns, but the drier than anticipated conditions across parts of the Canadian Prairies resulted in yields for that crop coming in well below normal," said Jerry Klassen, manager for GAP Grains and Produits in Winnipeg.

Farmers in Western Canada are already considering the possibility that conditions could again be on the drier side and in turn are considering putting in a crop that has more tolerance to drier soils, he noted.

"Farmers who planted canola in the marginal producing areas of Saskatchewan and Alberta are likely the ones considering the switch to wheat from canola," he said.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in its January supply/demand outlook pegged 2013-14 all-wheat area at 25.326 million acres, which would compare with all-wheat seeded area in 2012-13 of 23.826 million acres.

Klassen forecast all-wheat area in Canada would be up three per cent in the spring of 2013 from the year-ago pace.

Neil Townsend, a wheat analyst with CWB, also felt attractive prices and crop rotation requirements would translate into more area in Western Canada being seeded to wheat, as well as durum.

"A lot of the canola area that was planted in marginal areas included the southern regions of both Alberta and Saskatchewan," said Mike Jubinville, an analyst with ProFarmer Canada. Those areas have traditionally been seeded to wheat and durum and the expectation is that this area will again see wheat and durum plantings.

Durum area in Canada was expected to be at least seven per cent higher in 2013 than the 4.579 million acres seeded in the spring of 2012, Klassen said. AAFC estimated 2013 durum plantings in Canada at 4.819 million acres.

Jubinville also projected durum area will be up significantly at the expense of both canola and barley.

"The key to wheat areas climbing this spring is the fact that farmers have planted canola too many years in a row and need to change the rotation in order to prevent disease and other crop issues with that land," Jubinville said. "Wheat and durum just happen to be an attractive financial alternative at this time."

— Dwayne Klassen writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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