WINNIPEG/OTTAWA, June 29 (Reuters) – Canadian farmers planted less spring wheat and about the same area of canola as last year, dedicating the most land ever to lentils, Statistics Canada said in a report on Wednesday that was in line with trade expectations.
Statscan pegged all-wheat plantings, which also include the durum and winter varieties, at 23.2 million acres, down 2.8 percent from its April estimate of farmers’ intentions and slightly below the average trade expectation of 23.4 million acres.
This year’s all-wheat area is 3.9 percent smaller than a year ago, due to a 9 percent drop in spring wheat sowings.
Farmers in parts of the Prairies instead expanded seedings of lentils by 48 percent to a record 5.8 million acres, hoping to cash in on high prices due to demand from India.
Canola plantings spanned 20 million acres, up 3.5 percent from Statscan’s previous estimate and slightly below the average trade guess of 20.1 million acres, which also represented last year’s area.
Farmers took acres out of spring wheat and put them into canola and lentils, said Jerry Klassen, Winnipeg manager of GAP SA Grains and Produits.
“I think they’re on to a good thing,” Klassen said. “The lentil market can absorb this acreage.”
Back-to-back droughts have harmed crops in India, the world’s largest importer of pulse crops such as lentils, driving up demand. Monsoon rains are now likely to end later than usual, helping Indian crops recover.
The drop-off in spring wheat acres may be larger than expected, Klassen said. While global wheat supplies are ample, there may be tight supplies this year of high-protein varieties, given Canada’s smaller planted area, he said.
ICE Canada November canola futures did not react to the report, trading 0.1 percent lower.
Canada is a major wheat exporter and the biggest shipper of canola, a cousin of rapeseed used largely to produce vegetable oil.
* Spring, winter and durum
** Commodity News Service trade survey
|June StatsCan||Pre Report Estimate||StatsCan April||Final 2015-16|