The StatsCan crop report on October 4 summarized a July survey of 15,000 Canadian farmers about the production they expect to be harvesting this fall.
While the devastating drought in the U.S. energized crop prices here, one market observer thinks it may also have contributed to a tough year for Western Canada’s top crop.
“Overall, this has been a very unusual year in Western Canada,” says Fred Oleson, Chief of the Market Analysis Section, of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Winnipeg. “The big news is the surprise in canola.”
Digging into the StatsCan crop report, here’s a look at 2012 production expectations for key prairie-grown crops, compared to 2011.
Canola. Even though growers planted more acres to canola in 2012 than in 2011, yield results are falling well short of last year. Average Canadian canola yield is 28.2 bushels per acre, a 17.5% decline from last year. Total canola production is seen falling by 8.1% to 13.2 million tonnes.
"A few months ago the trade had been expecting 14 million to 15 million tonnes of canola,” says Oleson, “and here you have 13.2 million. As well, the survey was done before some of the wind problems that occurred at harvest so production could go even lower.”
According to the StatsCan crop report, by province, the canola production decline is sharpest in Saskatchewan at 16.7%, with average yields falling to 25 bushels per acre from 32.9 bushels in 2011. In Alberta, forecast yields are falling from 39.0 bushels per acre in 2011 to 34.9 bushels per acre. Among the prairie provinces, only Manitoba will grow more canola in 2012 than 2011, though average yields fell. With nearly one-third more canola acres this year than last, Manitoba growers are harvesting 24.7% more production.
The significant loss of canola yield in Alberta and Saskatchewan may be due to a number of factors, from higher-than-normal disease pressure to excessive heat at flowering to drier-than-normal conditions in some areas. To read more about canola disease prevention and management, click here.
Wheat. According to Statistics Canada, the country’s wheat production is expected to total 26.7 million tonnes in 2012, nearly 6% higher than last year. Average yield is falling, however, from 44 bushels per acre in 2011 to an expected 42.1 in 2012. Manitoba growers are seeing a 73.6% jump in wheat production, Saskatchewan is on course for a 7.2% production increase and Alberta’s wheat production is headed downward by 5.9%. Winter wheat production is seen rising by 20% in 2012 from 2011, Canada-wide.
Barley. Statistics Canada’s grower survey points to a 2012 increase in barley production in all three prairie provinces, keying a Canada-wide 10.8% increase in barley production, despite a lower average yield of 58.3 bushels per acre. Manitoba’s 2012 barley production will be more than double that of 2011.
Prairie growers have just wrapped up a year of generally good crop prices, but putting a high-yielding crop in the bin wasn’t always easy. Still, given what producers in other places went through, it might be best to see the crop production glass as half-full, not half-empty.
Says Oleson: “Our production is not as high as was expected, but compared to the U.S., we are doing pretty well.”
For program details on the DuPont™ FarmCare® Connect Grower Program, visit the website.