Canadian farmers seen sowing slightly less canola, more durum

WINNIPEG (Reuters) — Canadian farmers are leaning toward planting slightly less canola and more durum wheat, a Reuters survey of 12 traders and analysts showed on Monday.

Farmers still have plenty of time to change plans for seeding, which starts in most of the Prairies by May, but many have already bought some of their seed.

Canada will plant 23.9 million acres of “all wheat,” which includes spring wheat and durum, as well as winter wheat that matures this summer, according to the average estimate. That would be slightly more than last year’s 23.8 million acres and the second-biggest area in six years.

Durum, which is used to produce pasta, accounts for the increase, after a shortage of top-quality supply pushed up prices last year. Farmers are expected to plant 5.2 million acres, up nine percent to the largest area since 2009 in durum’s top-exporting country.

On the other hand, the survey shows canola seedings tapering back two percent to 19.9 million acres.

High costs of planting canola may steer farmers away from planting as much in 2015 as lower prices for many crops leave them more risk-averse, said Chuck Penner, owner of LeftField Commodity Research.

The crop remains popular with farmers year after year for its profitability, however.

“Early indications are for a slight cut (in acres), but I never count canola out until seeding is done,” said market analyst Dave Reimann of Cargill Ltd. “This crop has

a habit of getting acres when all is said and done.”

Other than canola, the trade expects plantings of most crops to expand this year, including the biggest-ever soybean area, due to low expectations for spring flooding.

Spring may be wetter and colder across much of the Prairies, but eastern Alberta, southern Saskatchewan and parts of southern Manitoba are currently low on snow, World Weather Inc. president Drew Lerner said in a speech in Winnipeg last week.

“That could be a really good thing for a lot of folks on the Prairies, where it’s been wet for so many years,” he said.

The following are average trade estimates for 2015 Canadian crop plantings:

Average      Lowest    Highest   Ag Canada  Statscan
estimate     estimate  estimate   Feb. 17   2014
(mln acres)

All wheat  23.9         22        25        25.0       23.835
Spring       17.3         16        18.1      NA         17.409
Durum      5.2          4.9       5.5       5.461      4.75
Canola      19.9         19.3      21        20.757    20.325
Oats           3.0          2.9       3.2       3.089     2.798
Barley        6.3          5.6       6.8       6.425     5.880
Peas           4.0          3.7       4.1       3.954      3.795
Flax            1.6          1.5       1.8       1.730       1.555
Corn           3            2.9       3.3       3.274      3.078
Lentils        3.2         2.8       3.5       3.459     3.110
Soybeans   5.7          5.5       5.9       5.807      5.562

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