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Canola trading kept choppy as agencies estimate acres

Markets will watch where soybeans go as tariffs kick in

ICE Futures Canada canola contracts held within a rather narrow range during the week ended June 29, with only the nearby July contract seeing some wide price swings as traders exited the front month before its expiry.

Aside from the month-end spread trade, positioning ahead of a number of key reports kept activity on the choppy side.

Statistics Canada raised its forecast for this year’s canola-seeded area to 22.7 million acres, well above the 21.383 million forecast prior to seeding and only slightly below the record 23 million seeded in 2017. Canola acres were right in line with trade expectations, but the official confirmation of the large acreage base should at least limit the upside for prices going forward.

Soybean plantings in the U.S. were also up from earlier projections in a separate report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. At 89.5 million acres, the U.S. bean crop would still be about 600,000 acres below the 2017 area, but marks the first time in 35 years that U.S. farmers planted more soybeans than corn. USDA pegged corn area in the country at 89.1 million acres, which would be down by about a million acres on the year.

After going heavy into soybeans last year, Canadian farmers are taking a bit of a step back from the crop in 2018. StatsCan estimated total planted Canadian soybean area at 6.3 million acres, which compares with 7.3 million in 2017. Saskatchewan area was cut in half from the 850,000 acres seeded in 2017.

North American spring wheat area will be up on the year, with Canadian farmers seeding 1.5 million acres more non-durum spring wheat in 2018 and U.S. farmers seeding a whopping 2.2 million more acres to the crop. The large spring wheat crops, and improving moisture conditions in key North American growing regions, had the Minneapolis futures losing ground to the Chicago and Kansas City winter wheats during the week.

Question marks

With acreage reports now in the rear-view mirror, attention in grains and oilseeds should now return to summer weather and global trade. While there are areas of concern, with dryness in some areas and excessive moisture in others, North American crops are generally thought to be in good shape for the time being.

What’s not in good shape is international trade. After months of talk, July will see a number of back-and-forth tariffs go into effect, with the resulting adjustments to the flow of agricultural goods still facing some question marks. As an example, Canadian canola could see some more Chinese demand if that country stops buying U.S. soybeans. However, those soybeans will end up somewhere else, leading to other adjustments in the world supply/demand tables.

About the author

Columnist

Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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