StatsCan survey shows bump up in wheat acres, particularly durum

Farmers back off canola, soybeans; pandemic expected to cause other problems for ag

File photo of an Alberta wheat field. (ImagineGolf/E+/Getty Images)

Ottawa | Reuters — Canadian farmers planted slightly more wheat overall in 2020 than in 2019, but the coronavirus outbreak will pose “unique challenges” in the production and distribution of crops, Statistics Canada said on Monday.

Farmers planted 25 million acres of wheat, up 1.5 per cent from 2019, thanks in part to a 16.2 per cent boost in durum wheat, which StatsCan linked to favourable prices.

Dry conditions early in seeding aided planting progress, with the exception of much of Alberta and northwestern Saskatchewan, which received more rain than usual.

The survey was conducted from May 14 to June 11, polling around 24,500 farms. StatsCan said the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic had not interfered with the collection of data.

Canola plantings slipped 0.8 per cent, to 20.8 million acres, and soybean acres dropped 11.3 per cent, to 5.1 million, as farmers shifted away from oilseeds, potentially because of high global supplies, StatsCan said.

Barley acres were up 1.4 per cent at 7.5 million acres, the highest reported seeded area since 2009, mainly on an uptick in Alberta; corn acres were down 3.7 per cent, at 3.6 million.

Dry pea acres were down 1.8 per cent at 4.3 million acres. Higher prices were seen as a possible motivator for increased lentil area at 4.2 million acres, up 12 per cent from 2019 — and for oats area, up 3.3 per cent at 1.9 million.

“While seeding progress during this reference period may not have been directly impacted by COVID-19, farmers have and continue to face their own set of unique challenges in the regular production and distribution of their crops due to the pandemic,” StatsCan said in a commentary.

— Reporting for Reuters by David Ljunggren in Ottawa. Includes files from Glacier FarmMedia Network staff.

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