Canadian farmers to harvest less canola

A wet spring caused canola production to drop one percent; wheat harvest is expected to rise by 10.5 percent

WINNIPEG/OTTAWA (Reuters) — Canadian farmers are set to harvest slightly less canola but more wheat, according to Statistics Canada’s first production report of the year.

Mostly favourable spring weather raised expectations of a bumper harvest in Western Canada, where most of the country’s grains and oilseeds grow. Summer storms, including tornadoes and hail, have since dampened some trade estimates.

Statistics Canada estimated canola production at 17 million tonnes, down one percent from last year and well below the average trade guess of 18.1 million tonnes.

Smaller harvested areas in Alberta and Manitoba are behind the decline, while canola yields are expected to average 38 bushels per acre nationally, the same as last year.

“We had uneven (canola) germination and uneven crops,” said Brian Voth, president of Prairie Farm Consulting in Manitoba, who expects the final canola harvest to be as small as 16 million tonnes.

“That makes spraying a real nightmare, and I think that’s why we’re seeing such big issues with disease, sclerotinia and blackleg, that will keep the crop from really filling out.”

Statistics Canada pegged the all-wheat crop at 30.5 million tonnes — the second-largest harvest in 25 years — up 10.5 percent from last year and in line with trade expectations. The jump is mainly due to one-quarter more estimated production of durum wheat, at 6.8 million tonnes.

Farmers are set to grow record-large crops of peas at 4.6 million tonnes and lentils at 3.2 million, mainly to satisfy Indian demand after two straight years of drought there.

However, plentiful monsoon rain could boost India’s domestic crop production.

“Basically we’re looking at overproduction of everything this year,” said Tamara Khoma, special crops trader at Providence Grain, referring to pulse crops including lentils and peas.

“Demand is growing, definitely, but not at the pace of production this year.”

Oat production looks to drop 12 percent to three million tonnes, which is at the low end of a range of expectations, while barley output may rise six percent to 8.7 million tonnes, slightly higher than the average trade estimate.

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