Acreage base expected smaller than StatsCan update

The acreage update coming from Statistics Canada early Thursday is expected to show a decline in seeded area in comparison to the projections for the period ended March 31. 

The federal statistics agency’s numbers are seen as providing at least a base in which to backtrack seeding intentions which were negatively impacted by excessive precipitation this spring, particularly in eastern Saskatchewan and western Manitoba.

“The report from StatsCan to some extent will be more reflective of what could have been, rather than what is,” said Mike Jubinville, an analyst with ProFarmer Canada.

Ken Ball, a broker with Union Securities in Winnipeg, agreed that the numbers from the government agency are not an indication of what was seeded, but will be used more as a starting point in which to subtract area not seeded due to excess moisture, areas flooded out and areas that will see reduced yield potential.

Both Jubinville and Ball were also of the opinion that the numbers could also be a waste of time, given the timing of the acreage survey.

“The survey was taken from May 24 to June 3, at which point, producers may have still been optimistic about getting crops into the ground before crop insurance deadlines kicked in,” Ball said.

He noted there were was still plenty of wet weather producers had to deal with after that survey deadline, for which producers may have had to change their intentions for what went into the ground.

Jubinville pointed out that producers may have concentrated on broadcast-seeding canola instead of sticking with normal rotation plans for other crops such as wheat, barley and oats, given the severity of the soil moisture situation.

Although conditions in a lot of the eastern regions of Saskatchewan and western Manitoba may have been excessively wet, producers in desperation took to the air to seed canola and hopefully were able to harrow the crop in, he cautioned.

“This could, on the flipside of the coin, actually result in more area being planted to canola than anticipated,” Jubinville said. “It will, however not translate into a high yield given that fertilizer applications weren’t included and that broadcast seeding can leave gaps.”

Jubinville said one only had to look at last year’s situation and keep the option open for extra acreage to canola.

“Last year, there were all kinds of thought that seeded area to canola would be significantly lower with estimates coming in as low as 13 million to 14 million acres,” Jubinville said. “However, canola area in 2010 finally was pegged at 16.8 million acres.”

Both Ball and Jubinville were of the opinion that a repeat of last year’s canola acreage situation was unlikely to occur because conditions were just too wet.

“Doubts”

Ron Frost, an analyst with Frost Forecast Consulting of Calgary, said the canola acreage estimate will certainly garner the most attention of all the numbers. He too felt the area seeded to canola will also be down from StatsCan’s report released in April for the period ended March 31.

He estimated canola area in the spring of 2011 would fall between 17.75 million and 18.25 million acres.

“I have my doubts that producers were able to seed a lot of territory, particularly in the eastern regions of Saskatchewan and (in) Manitoba,” Frost said, noting that the area left unseeded may be a more important number to examine.

Frost, who experienced the recent storm system that hit the southeastern regions of Saskatchewan, said fields were unable to handle the downpour, especially with the water easily overflowing ditches and running across provincial highways.

“How were producers expected to seed any kind of crops in those kind of conditions?” Frost said, also wondering about fields that had been planted and drowned.

Jubinville felt canola area in Canada would be in the 17.5 million-acre range, compared to earlier ideas of 19 million or better.

Another crop likely to have experienced a significant decline will be durum, Frost and Jubinville said.

“Durum is typically grown along the southern regions of Saskatchewan, and that area was generally a lot wetter than normal this spring, which caused producers to seek out alternative crop choices,” Frost said.

In the southeast corner of Saskatchewan, including the northern areas of North Dakota where durum is also a commonly grown crop, area to the crop will be down due to the excessively wet conditions, he said.

Some seeding of oats, barley and even wheat may have occurred late, but will only be used as greenfeed for livestock purposes, he said.

Table 1. Pre-report expectations for June 21, 2011 against Statistics Canada’s acreage survey results to be released June 23. Figures are in millions of acres.

StatsCan, Pre-report Actual
March 2011 estimates 2010
Canola 19.225 17.250-18.250 16.818
All wheat 24.724 21.500-23.500 21.065
  Durum 5.050 3.000-3.700 3.150
Barley 7.833 7.400-7.750 6.911
Flaxseed 1.210 0.800-1.000 0.925
Oats 4.056 3.000-3.700 2.913

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