Trade Guesses Varied Ahead of StatsCan Crop Report

Statistics Canada will reveal its first production estimates for the 2019 growing season next week, one that has seen its fair share of ups and downs.

In Ontario, producers were challenged by the same cold, wet spring that also badly delayed planting in large portions of the American Midwest. Meanwhile, Prairie producers had the opposite problem, with many areas plagued by drought before the taps finally started turning back on in the latter part of June and into July. Still, pockets of Western Canada remain too dry, particularly southern Alberta, while others further north need the rain to stop.

Going into the Aug. 28 report – which will be based on a survey of farmers taken mainly in July - trade guesses put this year’s canola crop at anywhere between 18 million and 20.5 million tonnes, compared to 20.34 million a year earlier and the latest Agriculture Canada estimate of 18.57 million.

"It's hard to get a handle on canola this year because, at this stage, the farmers are going to be a bit conservative and err on the side of caution," said Jerry Klassen, manager of Canadian operations with GAP S.A. Grains and Products in Winnipeg. "They might report a bit below their actual yield."

Last year’s average canola yield came in at 39.8 bu/acre, but highly variable conditions across the Prairies means the 2019 average is a crapshoot.

"In Saskatchewan in July, there were a lot of canola fields with bare spots," Klassen said. "There was a lot of canola just coming out of the ground."

It’s “hard to guess,” where this year’s average yield may eventually end up, he added.

Canadian all wheat production is seen between 32 million and 34.1 million tonnes, versus 2018 production of 29.86 million tonnes and Ag Canada’s August estimate of 32.5 million. (Ag Canada actually raised its all wheat production forecast by 500,000 tonnes from July, citing improved Prairie growing conditions).

Klassen also said wheat yields are also quite variable, but likely fared better than canola early in the growing season.

"(Wheat) was seeded deeper and there was more uniform germination, so the crop was able to sustain itself on subsoil moisture until we got rain in early July," he noted.

Based mainly on a sharp reduction in planted and harvested area, trade guesses put durum output for this year at 4.53 million to 5.33 million tonnes, down from 5.74 million last year and the Ag Canada estimate of 5.1 million.

Oat production is projected by analysts at 3.35 million to 3.4 million tonnes, compared to 3.43 million last year but well down from Ag Canada’s forecast of 3.93 million, while barley output is seen between 8.8 million and 10 million tonnes – up from 8.37 million in 2018 and the Ag Canada estimate of 9.65 million.

Pea production is expected at 3.6 million and 4.52 million tonnes, versus 3.58 million a year earlier and the latest Ag Canada estimate of 4.3 million. Lentil output is projected to come in at 1.87 million and 2.3 million tonnes, compared to 2.09 million in 2018 and 2.2 million for Ag Canada.

Source: DePutter Publishing Ltd.

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