Adjustments likely ahead for StatsCan’s early acreage estimates

Projections still in line with grain trade's expectations

MarketsFarm — The results of the first acreage estimates for 2020 from Statistics Canada come with an asterisk, as the COVID-19 pandemic halted data collection early.

Canada’s actual seeded area is expected to see some shifts from the projections released Thursday.

“As a result of the timing of the COVID-19 pandemic, these estimates were produced in March 2020 under exceptional circumstances,” StatsCan said in the report, while highlighting a lower than usual response rate.

The report was originally scheduled to be released in April, but was delayed to Thursday.

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“At this time, intended seeded area estimates cannot reflect the full impact on the crop sector as a result of COVID-19,” StatsCan said, adding that “over time, as seeded area estimates are revised based on new data, users will be able to see a more comprehensive view of the impacts on seeding and production.”

While revisions are likely, the projections were still largely in line with market expectations.

However, one crop that stood out was lentils, with the government agency forecasting a slight 1.9 per cent reduction in seeded area at 3.709 million acres.

“I have a feeling that the lentil number will look a lot different by the time we get to the final acreage report,” MarketsFarm Pro analyst Mike Jubinville said, noting red lentil prices have seen considerable strength since the survey was conducted.

Peas and durum have also seen solid prices over the past month, with increase from the projected 4.279 million pea acres and 5.228 million durum acres also likely.

On the other side, Jubinville expected any increases in durum area would come at the expense of other spring wheat. Total wheat acres were estimated at 25.427 million, which would be up 3.3 per cent on the year.

Canola plantings were forecast to be down by 1.6 per cent on the year, at 20.615 million acres. Jubinville expected canola was another crop that may see slightly lower area in subsequent reports.

StatsCan on Thursday also released a report on stocks of principal field crops as of March 31, 2020. The data showed canola stocks of 8.925 million tonnes, down 12.3 per cent from the same time the previous year.

Jubinville saw the smaller canola number as a sign that canola carryout for 2019-20 may end up a bit tighter than some of the more bearish projections, especially as both export and domestic crusher demand has been solid so far.

— Phil Franz-Warkentin reports for MarketsFarm from Winnipeg.

Table: A recap of Statistics Canada’s acreage report as of March 31, 2020. Pre-report expectations are provided for comparison purposes. Figures are in millions of acres.

CropTrade projections.     .
March, 2020-21.     .2019-20
Barley5.900 – 7.7007.2507.402
Canola20.000 – 22.00020.61520.956
Corn3.400 – 3.8003.8153.695
Flax0.900 – 1.1000.9420.937
Lentils3.500 – 4.5003.7093.781
Oats3.500 – 3.7503.8333.606
Peas3.900 – 4.4004.2794.333
Soybeans5.100 – 5.7005.2205.714
All wheat  *24.250 – 26.70025.42724.604
Durum5.270 – 6.8005.2284.894

* – “All wheat” includes spring wheat, durum wheat and winter wheat remaining after winterkill

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