Canada’s first planted area estimates for the 2024/25 season were released early last week, with the grower survey results indicating the nation’s farmers intend to plant more oats, durum wheat, corn, lentils and dry field peas compared to last season while planting less spring wheat, canola, soybeans and barley.

Statistics Canada’s field crop survey, which collects information on old crop stocks and seeding intentions of the nation’s principal field crops, was conducted between December 14, 2023, and January 22, 2024. It included around 9,600 respondents from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

This is the second season that Statistics Canada has adopted the relatively early December-January survey period, raising concerns of major area changes leading into the spring sowing period due to adverse weather, geopolitical influences or significant changes in commodity price projections. One important change this year was the time between the survey close and the data release, which was tightened significantly from last year’s April 26 announcement, following plenty of criticism in 2023 due to the delayed publication.

After collating the survey results, Statistics Canada has concluded that the total area planted to the fifteen principal field crops in 2024/25 is expected to be 31.65 million hectares, slightly lower than last season’s record seeded area of 31.73Mha. At the same time, farmers have indicated that the total summer fallow area is forecast to drop to a record low of just under 0.5Mha.

Wheat commands the most extensive land area in Canada each season, and the survey results suggest that Canada’s farmers anticipate seeding 10.95Mha to the cereal grain this year, fractionally higher than the 10.94Mha planted in 2023/24, but 6.5 per cent above the 10.27Mha planted in 2022/23.

Spring wheat plantings, the largest of the three wheat categories, are expected to drop to 7.78Mha this year, down 1.2 per cent after an 8 per cent rise last year. The winter wheat area is also seen lower season-on-season, down 3.6 per cent to 0.6Mha after jumping 12.9 per cent last year. Conversely, the area seeded to durum wheat is forecast at 2.57Mha, 5.1 per cent higher than last season and 5.6 per cent more than the 2022/23 season.

Across the major wheat-producing provinces, farmers in Saskatchewan expect wheat plantings of 5.75Mha, marginally higher than last year. In Alberta, the wheat area is seen 2.2 per cent higher at 3.28Mha, and grain growers in Manitoba are looking to decrease the wheat area by 0.6 per cent to 1.34Mha.

Canola is the second-biggest crop in Canada each year, and combined with wheat, they are forecast to occupy around 62 per cent of the area plant to field crops this season. The canola area is predicted to fall by around 280,000 hectares, or 3.1 per cent, to 8.66Mha, roughly in line with the five-year average but the lowest in four years. While soil moisture is an issue in some regions, lower price expectations are considered the primary driver of the reduction.

At a provincial level, Saskatchewan farmers have reported a 4.9 per cent decrease in their canola seeding intentions to 4.78Mha, while the area in both Alberta and Manitoba is expected to fall by 2.4 per cent to 2.51Mha and 1.29Mha, respectively.

Barley and oats are the country’s other main winter/spring cereal crops. Nationally, the barley area is projected to fall by 2.5 per cent to 2.89Mha, 5.3 per cent below the five-year average, after a 3.9 per cent rise to 2.96Mha last year. The area is 0.7 per cent lower in Saskatchewan, 3.7 per cent lower in Alberta and down by 4.5 per cent in Manitoba. Oats, on the other hand, is predicted to see a planting revival in 2024/25, up 21.6 per cent to 1.24Mha after falling out of favour last season when the area dropped by 35.8 per cent compared to 2022/23 to 1.02Mha.

The two main pulse crops in Canada each year are dry field peas and lentils, and grower planting intentions for both are higher than last season. The lentil area of 1.55Mha is 4.4 per cent higher than 2023/24, following a fall of 15.1 per cent last year compared to 2022/23. The dry field pea story is similar, with a 95 per cent fall last season followed up by a 2.4 per cent increase to 1.26Mha this season.

On the row crop front, Canada’s farmers appear to be abandoning soybeans in favour of corn this year. The Statistics Canada farmer survey revealed a 0.9 per cent fall in soybean planting intentions to 2.26Mha, after jumping 6.8 per cent last season to 2.28Mha. The corn area had a similar trajectory last year, up 5.5 per cent to 1.55Mha, and is forecast to rise again this summer by 1.6 per cent to 1.57Mha.

Ontario is Canada’s biggest row cropping state, planting 59 per cent and 54 per cent of the nation’s corn and soybean areas, respectively. The province’s soybean plantings are expected to rise 4.3 per cent this season and the corn expanse is forecast to rise 0.2 per cent.

Early production estimates put 2024/25 wheat output at around 34.3 million metric tonne, 7.5 per cent higher than 2023/24. This is based on a harvested area of 98 per cent of the planted area, normal weather for the balance of the growing season and a return to trend yield of 3.2 metric tonne per hectare.

Applying the same weather assumption to canola, using a harvested area one per cent lower than the intended planted area and a trend yield of 2.1mt/ha puts 2024/25 output at 18mmt, 1.8 per cent lower than last season. For barley, typical spring and summer weather conditions should see production hit 10.3mmt using a one per cent loss in planted area and a trend yield of 3.6mt/ha.

Perhaps the biggest impediment to the planting intentions may be the ongoing drought conditions prevailing across much of southern Canada. The impacts of El Nino are forecast to dwindle this spring, which should allow the persistent ridging across Western Canada to break down and allow more storm systems to move through the region. While above-average temperatures are expected across much of the cropping regions this spring, precipitation will be the biggest influence going into the planting window. Without more rainfall to build soil moisture reserves, crops may get off to a poor start early in the growing season, which could easily lead to yield impacts at harvest.

Call your local Grain Brokers Australia representative on 1300 946 544 to discuss your grain marketing needs.

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