Farmers, traders will have to make do without crop area report

StatsCan isn’t sure it has enough information for a credible report

Statistics Canada will not issue its crop area report on April 24 as originally scheduled. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the federal agency to rethink its tasks, and one major change was to postpone a number of upcoming agricultural reports.

Ken Ball, a trader for PI Financial in Winnipeg, suggests the markets can do just fine without the crop area report.

“It’s been a bit of a struggle to guess on acres anyways,” he said. “We’ve had some good pricing in Western Canada on wheat… and canola has held up reasonably well.”

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Although there may not be enough hard data for Statistics Canada to go on, there’s been a growing consensus in the market that canola acres in Canada will be down in 2020 — not because of pricing, rather due to the amount of canola that was left to overwinter. Harvesting that canola will push back planting in those particular fields, which may result in farmers switching to other crops, Ball suggested.

A spokesperson for Statistics Canada said about half of the data for the area report was collected, but the agency was unsure if that data was strong enough for a credible report.

There has been speculation in the markets that report could be issued sometime in May at the earliest. As well, Statistics Canada has a second crop area report scheduled for the end of June.

Eventually the agency will need to produce something. Markets, and farmers, require some sort of guidance as to what crops and how much of them are estimated to be planted in 2020. The sooner that’s known, the better it will be for the agriculture industry.

About the author

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Glen Hallick - MarketsFarm

Glen Hallick writes for MarketsFarm specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. He previously reported for Postmedia newspapers in southern Manitoba and the province’s Interlake region.

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