Canadian farmers intend to plant more of just about everything in 2012, according to the Statistics Canada planting intentions report released Tuesday, as favourable returns and improved moisture conditions could see very few acres lying fallow this summer.
With canola, wheat, barley and most of the other major crops grown in the country expected to see sizeable acreage increases in 2012, summerfallow, at 3.97 million acres, could end up well below average. That unseeded area would compare to 12.41 million the previous year and the more traditional summerfallow acreage level of about six million to eight million.
"With the high returns for all crops, farmers are seeding fencerow to fencerow," said Jerry Klassen, manager of GAP S.A. Grains and Products in Winnipeg. Over six million acres were left unseeded in Western Canada in 2011 due to adverse conditions in the spring, and Klassen said all of the major crops are grown in that area.
"We might be pushing over 70 million acres of seeded crop, which would be a record for us," said Darren Frank of FarmLink Marketing Solutions in Winnipeg.
"The price incentive is there for farmers to seed a maximum amount of acres," said Ron Frost, of Frost Forecast Consulting in Calgary, adding that "we'll have an all time record seeded acreage figure when you add up all the crops."
The stretching of rotations in some cases may have an adverse impact on yields, he said, but added that good weather over the growing season would lead to record production on many crops.
Canola acres were forecast at 20.4 million by StatsCan, which would be a sixth consecutive record for the oilseed and compares with 18.9 million in 2011. While the number is large, many industry participants are still anticipating an even larger canola crop.
Tight supply projections for canola mean "we're now at a point where we can't have any adverse weather or crop problems during the growing season," Klassen said.
All wheat acres were forecast at 24.32 million by StatsCan, a 13.3 per cent increase on the year and in line with trade guesses. Of that total, durum could be seen as slightly bearish, according to Frank.
Durum acres are forecast to increase by 27 per cent, reaching 5.1 million, according to StatsCan.
Barley acres were forecast at 7.97 million by StatsCan, which compares with 6.47 million in 2011. The increase was in line with trade guesses.
Oats were estimated at 3.39 million acres, up from 3.11 million the previous year and at the high end of trade guesses.
Lentils were the only major crop where acreage intentions were down on the year, with StatsCan pegging the crop at 2.46 million acres, from 2.57 million in 2011.
Frank said it was surprising the lentil number wasn't smaller still, as the price outlooks are currently favouring other crop options.
Table: A recap of Statistics Canada's planting intentions report for the period ended March 31, 2012, in millions of acres. Pre-report expectations are provided for comparison purposes.
||19.400 - 23.000
||22.300 - 27.246
||4.450 - 7.440
||7.500 - 8.800
||0.600 - 1.150
||2.750 - 3.885
||2.500 - 3.195