Canadian wheat, canola crops seen weathering snow

Winnipeg | Reuters — Canada’s wheat and canola crops withstood wintry weather that stalled the autumn harvest, and production topped last year’s output, according to Reuters’ industry survey of 13 analysts and traders.

Statistics Canada on Tuesday will issue its final crop production estimates for the 2016-17 marketing year.

The industry expects, on average, all-wheat production of 30.7 million tonnes, the largest in three years. It slightly topped StatsCan’s Aug. 23 estimate, and would be 11 per cent bigger than last year’s production.

Analysts and traders expect record canola output of 18.8 million tonnes, exceeding StatsCan’s earlier estimate of 17 million and coming in two per cent higher than last year.

Snow blanketed crops in Alberta and Saskatchewan in October, stopping farmers for weeks from finishing the harvest. An unusual November warm spell allowed them a last chance to bring in most of the remaining crop.

“Western Canadian farmers are persistent and kept at it until most of the grain was in the bin,” said Lawrence Klusa, a market adviser with Agri-Trend. “I would estimate that we harvested more western Canadian acres in November this year than ever before.”

The unusual weather, however, may add uncertainty to StatsCan’s report.

StatsCan surveyed farmers from Oct. 21 to Nov. 13, and it is unclear if farmers factored in how much more crop they planned to harvest, said Brian Voth, president of Prairie Farm Consulting.

“I think this report will be a total crapshoot,” he said, adding that he saw plenty of unharvested crops in Alberta last week.

Despite harsh weather, quality of canola, wheat and lentil crops look better than expected, based on government samples, CIBC analyst Jacob Bout said this week.

Canada is the world’s largest exporter of canola and expected to be the fourth-biggest wheat shipper this year. The big Canadian crops come as the International Grains Council forecasts record-large world production of wheat and soybeans this year.

— Rod Nickel is a Reuters correspondent covering the agriculture and mining sectors from Winnipeg.

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