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The U.S. Department of Agriculture on March 30, on the basis of a survey of producers’ spring planting intentions, forecast the area planted to canola in the United States for harvest this year to be the largest on record. Plantings of sunflower varieties used for oil and of flaxseed will be up from last year, when plantings for oil crops associated with the northern Plains were reduced because foul spring weather prevented producers from seeding what they planned. But plantings of oil sunflower and flaxseed still will fall short of their recent five-year averages, the U.S.D.A. indicated.

The U.S.D.A. forecast canola plantings in the United States at 1,557,200 aces, up 485,700 acres, or 45%, from 1,071,500 acres in 2011. The forecast record canola area compared with 1,448,800 acres in 2010 and the current record-large area of 1,555,000 acres in 2000. The recent five-year average area planted to canola was 1,106,860 acres. The U.S.D.A. said in commentary accompanying the plantings data, “Compared with last year, planted area is expected to increase in five of the seven major canola-producing states, with acreage in Idaho, North Dakota and Washington expected to increase more than 50% from the previous year’s area. Producers in North Dakota, the leading canola state, intend to plant 1.3 million acres, up 440,000 acres from last year, and will tie the previous record high planted area, if realized.”

Plantings of oil-type sunflower were forecast at 1,536,500 acres, up 19% from 1,289,500 acres in 2011 and compared with 1,675,800 acres as the five-year average planted area. Area planted to oil-type sunflowers and non-oil varieties combined, i.e. all sunflower plantings, was forecast at 1,808,000 acres, up 17% from 1,543,000 acres in 2011. With the exception of 2011 seedings, though, the forecast sunflower planted area this year would be the smallest since 1987. Growers intend to plant 289,000 acres to flaxseed in 2012, up 62% from 178,000 acres in 2011. Flaxseed plantings in 2010 were 421,000 acres, and the recent five-year average planted area was 325,000 acres.