More wheat? Less canola? More oats? What are farmers really planning to plant?

The Statistics Canada seeding intentions report is out. It says farmers at the end of March planned for lots more wheat, lots less canola, lots more oats, a little less barley.

Go see the report here.

Here’s the important conclusion:

“Planting intentions for 2013 show increases in spring wheat and durum wheat compared with 2012 as well as a possible decrease in canola acreage. Indications are that both corn for grain and soybean areas could reach new records nationally.

Farmers may modify their plans prior to planting time as a result of environmental conditions. Some farmers reported that they were still undecided about their final strategies for 2013 as snow lingered in fields in most parts of Canada at the time of the survey.”

That second paragraph is crucial, because the super-late spring probably has farmers shifting lots of acres around, from shifting wheat into barley to shifting soybeans and corn into more regular prairie crops.

Is barley really going to drop a couple of percent? Analysts I’ve spoken to in the last week see the late spring pushing barley acreage up.

Is canola really dropping by millions of acres? All depends on what farmers in any particular micro-region have for alternatives.

Will oats go up? That’s probably a safe bet.

But as much as everyone likes to say that farmers are stuck in their rotations and can’t change much, weird and wacky weather like this (lack of) Spring mean that thousands of farmers might shift a quarter or a half section from one crop to another, and that can have a big aggregate effect.

So to see what farmers are really going to plant, we’ll just have to see what happens with the weather, and when the wheels start turning across the prairies.

Nice to know what farmers were planning to seed 10,000 years ago, at the end of March, anyway. At least we’ll have a good baseline against which to judge the impact of the weird weather.



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