Canadian growers plan less spring wheat, more durum

by Ron Sterk
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OTTAWA, ONTARIO — Canadian farmers in 2007 plan to plant less spring wheat, soybeans and flaxseed, but more durum, oats, barley, corn, canola and field peas than a year ago, Statistics Canada said in its March intentions of principal field crop areas report released April 24.

"The March seeding intentions survey, which covered 16,800 Canadian farmers, revealed that in response to economic considerations they may seed a record area of canola and field peas, but less spring wheat and flaxseed in the Prairies," Statistics Canada said. "A record area of corn for grain may be planted in the East, the result of steady demand from the livestock industry and increased demand from the ethanol industry." The survey was conducted from March 23-31.

Farmers plan to seed 23,758,800 acres to all types of wheat in 2007, down 2,628,100 acres, or 10%, from 26,386,900 acres last year, Statistics Canada said.

Intended spring wheat area was forecast at 17,079,500 acres, down 3,193,900 acres, or 16%, from 20,273,400 acres in 2006. Area in the three major Prairie provinces was forecast at 16.7 million acres, well below the five-year average of 18.5 million acres.

"Farmers striving for improved returns may plant less spring wheat in favor of canola, field peas, barley and oats," Statistics Canada said.

Durum area was forecast at 4,950,000 acres, up 600,000 acres, or 14%, from 4,350,000 acres in 2006 and compared with 5.6 million acres as the five-year average. Winter wheat area was forecast at 1,729,300 acres, down 34,100 acres, or 2% from 1,763,400 acres in 2006.

Area seeded to oats was forecast at 5,681,900 acres, up 931,000 acres, or 20%, from 4,750,900 acres in 2006. Saskatchewan farmers intended the largest increase at 3 million acres, up 950,000 acres, or 46%, from 2006. Canada is traditionally the major source of milling oats to the United States, and because of small crops in Europe and Australia, to the rest of the world in 2006.

Barley seedings were forecast at 10,812,300 acres, up 1,272,000 acres, or 13%, from 9,540,300 acres in 2006. Area in the three Prairie provinces was forecast at 10.2 million acres, up 15.5%, but below the five-year average of 10.6 million acres.

Oilseed planting intentions were mixed. Canadian farmers intend to plant 14,831,100 acres of canola, up 1,555,000 acres, or 12%, from 13,276,100 acres a year ago.

"Prairie farmers may seed a record 14.7 million acres of canola, up 11.5%, or 1.5 million acres, from 2006," Statistics Canada said. "The previous record of 14.2 million acres was set way back in 1994."

But planting intentions for flaxseed, grown primarily in Saskatchewan, and soybeans, grown mainly in eastern Canada, were below 2006 levels.

Flaxseed area was forecast at 1,430,000 acres, down 650,000 acres, or 31%, from 2,080,000 acres in 2006. Soybean area was forecast at 2,930,900 acres, down 127,900 acres, or 4%, from 3,058,800 acres in 2006.

Farmers in eastern provinces plan to increase corn plantings, however, Statistics Canada said. Total planted area forecast for corn was 3,510,700 acres, up 725,000 acres, or 26%, from 2,785,700 acres a year earlier.

Area intended for dry peas was forecast at 3,565,000 acres, up 80,000 acres, or 2%, from 3,485,000 acres in 2006. Summerfallow area was forecast at 8,045,000 acres, down 2,665,000 acres, or 25%, from 10,710,000 acres in 2006.

Statistics Canada will release its survey of preliminary estimates of principal field crop areas on June 26.

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