Prairie wheat acres seen dropping six per cent in 2015

(Country Guide file photo)

Winnipeg | CNS Canada — Canadian wheat acreage, excluding durum, is expected to drop six per cent, to 17.9 million acres, for the 2015-16 crop year, Agri-Trend Group CEO Robert Saik told the Wild Oats Grainworld conference in Winnipeg.

Wheat acres are expected to fall as current returns are at the breakeven level, and the rally potential for the market is flat to moderate, Saik said. There are also some worries about fusarium damaging wheat crops. Rail movement issues may also discourage farmers from seeding wheat.

“Famers don’t want to plant something when they still have lots of it in the bin and there are no signs of moving it,” he added.

Durum wheat acreage would rise 15 per cent compared to 2014, to 5.5 million acres, he expected, as returns for the crop are positive. In 2014-15, 4.8 million acres of durum were planted.

Canola area is projected to increase slightly to 20.4 million acres, from 20.3 million in 2014. Soybean area will likely stay flat at 5.6 million acres, while flax will see a slight increase to 1.8 million acres, from 1.6 million last year. Sunflower seed area should jump to 100,000 acres, an increase of 25 per cent, Saik said.

The price outlook for pulse crops is positive, which leads to expectations of increased area. Minimal disease problems, and expectations that demand from India and southwest Asia will remain strong were also making pulses look attractive.

Saik predicted pea acres would be at 3.9 million acres, up from 3.8 million in 2014. Farmers are expected to plant 3.5 million acres of lentils, from 3.1 million last spring.

Both corn and oats are expected to see three million acres planted, which is a slight increase for oats, as 2.8 million acres were planted last year. In 2014, farmers seeded 3.1 million acres of corn.

A fairly large increase is expected in barley acreage, as potential returns for malt varieties are looking very good. Saik expected acres to rise to 7.2 million, from 5.9 million last spring.

The overall balance shows cereals will make up 50.6 per cent of seeded area, oilseeds 38.6 per cent and pulses 10.8 per cent in 2015. In 2014, cereals made up 50.4 per cent of seeded acres, oilseeds were 39.2 per cent and pulses were 10.4 per cent.

Summerfallow is also expected to drop to three million acres, from 4.6 million in 2014.

— Terryn Shiells writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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