Canadian durum area seen down 38%

by Ron Sterk
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OTTAWA, QUEBEC — Area planted to spring wheat, oats, soybeans, corn, dry field peas and dry edible beans in Canada this year was estimated up from 2009 levels, with canola and lentil area expected record high, Statistics Canada said in its Preliminary Estimates of Principal Field Crops Areas report.

But the estimates carried a major question mark because wet spring weather may result in millions of unplanted acres, determined after the survey was taken May 25 to June 3.

“The Prairie provinces experienced excessive amounts of precipitation this spring with cool conditions in many areas,” Statistics Canada said. “Producers in the northeast and central regions of Saskatchewan reported that they were less than 60% seeded and that earlier seeded areas were under water. Many reported that it would be too late in the season to finish seeding by the time the fields dry out enough to get the seeding equipment back on the land.”

Area seeded to spring wheat other than durum was estimated at 17,806,700 acres, down 2% from the March planting intentions report but up 5% from 16,930,000 acres in 2009, Statistics Canada said. In the three major grain producing Prairie provinces, spring wheat area was estimated at 8,625,000 acres in Saskatchewan, up 9% from 2009, at 5,955,000 acres in Alberta, up 1%, and at 2,900,000 acres in Manitoba, up 4%.

Durum plantings were estimated at 3,490,000 acres, down 5% from March intentions and down 38% from 5,660,000 acres a year ago. Durum seeding in Saskatchewan was estimated at 3,070,000 acres, down 3.5% from 2009, and in Alberta at 420,000 acres, down 51%.

The winter wheat seeded area remaining after winterkill was estimated at 1,422,900 acres, up 1% from March but down 24%, from 1,866,900 acres in 2009.

Total wheat area was estimated at 22,719,600 acres, down 2% from March intentions and down 7% from 24,456,900 acres seeded in 2009.

Canola plantings were estimated at a record 17,894,700 acres, up 6% from March intentions and up 11% from 16,199,700 acres a year ago.

“Encouraged by expectations of more attractive prices for canola compared to other crops, Prairie farmers intended to increase their plantings of canola to a record area,” Statistics Canada said. “This was the fourth annual increase in canola in the Prairies.”

Oats planted area was estimated at 3,737,800 acres, down 6% from March but up slightly from 3,731,500 acres in 2009.

Since Canada is the major source of milling quality oats for the United States and other export markets, millers expressed much concern about adequate supplies for the 2010-11 marketing year should oats area drop further due to the wet spring. Oats futures prices in Chicago surged as much as 87c a bu, or 45%, since the end of May.

Area planted to flaxseed was estimated at 1,285,000 acres, down 10% from March and down 25% from 1,710,000 acres planted in 2009.

Barley seedings were estimated at 8,051,700 acres, down 3% from March intentions and down 7% from 8,663,300 acres last year.

Corn area was estimated at 2,980,600 acres, down 1% from March but up slightly from 2,973,900 acres in 2009.

Soybean plantings were estimated at 3,723,800 acres, up 5% from March intentions and up 8% from 3,448,000 acres last year.

“Soybean area has increased each year since 2007 when the area planted was 230,000 acres,” Statistics Canada said. Record large soybean plantings were expected in Quebec and Manitoba.
Area planted to dry field peas was estimated at 3,795,000 acres, up 5% from March and up 1% from 3,760,000 acres a year ago.

Lentil plantings were estimated at a record 3,360,000 acres, up 40% from 2009, dry edible beans at 326,100 acres, up 11%, and fall rye remaining after winterkill at 225,000 acres, down 21%.

“Profitable price expectations for lentils were supported by strong demand from export markets,” Statistics Canada said of the large acreage increase from 2009.

Summerfallow, or area left unplanted to rest the soil, was estimated at 6,120,000 acres, down 7% from March and down 2% from a year ago. The number may go up considerably due to the wet spring, which some analysts estimate may result in an additional 12 million unplanted acres.

“As a result of continued inclement weather in Western Canada, estimates of planted areas may change considerably in the July farm survey, the results of which will be released on Aug. 20,” Statistics Canada said in The Daily news report.

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