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Record Canola Acres — If Land Dries Soon

Canada’s farmers intend to plant more canola, all wheat and oats than the trade expected, according to Statistics Canada’s first report on 2011 crop plans, but wet farms have left seeding plans in doubt.

Farmers have been idled so far this spring as cool weather slowed melting of deep snow-pack on already saturated ground. Planting is 10 days to three weeks behind the norm, according to the Canadian Wheat Board, a trend that could lead to farmers changing their plans.

“The weather is going to dominate still,” said Ken Ball, a commodities futures and options broker at Union Securities in Winnipeg. “These numbers are all going to be questionable because there are going to be shifts and for all we know, all the acres might not make it in this year.”

Farmers intend to plant a record 19.2 million acres of canola in the 2011-12 marketing year, up 14.3 per cent from last year, StatsCan said, and slightly higher than a trade range of estimates in a prior Reuters survey.

Most of canola’s gains will come in Saskatchewan, StatsCan said, although that province is also seeing major spring flooding.

StatsCan estimated bigger plantings of all major crops except peas on expectations that farmers will get much more land planted than they did during last year’s rainy season.

The result is optimistic planting estimates, said Stuart McMillan, the Canadian Wheat Board’s crops and weather analyst.

“I think this report accurately reflects farmers’ intentions, it’s just that given the tremendous amount of soil moisture, snow over the winter, the cool temperatures, we will see greater spread between reality and intentions this year,” he said.

The large planting intentions demonstrate how eager farmers are to cash in on high prices, McMillan said.

StatsCan said plantings of all wheat will climb 17.4 per cent to 24.7 million acres – at the upper end of traders’ range of estimates.

Spring wheat plantings are expected to rise about nine per cent to nearly 18 million acres, while durum wheat area sees a 60 per cent jump to about five million acres after farmers grew a small crop last year due to weak prices.

Oat seedings are seen rising 39 per cent to 4.1 million acres.

The forecast jump in oat acres was surprisingly large, even though the trade expected a rebound after farmers produced the smallest crop in 19 years in 2010.

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