Farmers Favor Lentils and Some Grains

OTTAWA - Jun 29/20 - SNS -- Higher prices and net returns relative to other crops resulted in year over year increases in the amount of land Canadian farmers committed to lentils, barley, and durum wheat reports Statistics Canada in its 2020 seeded area estimates.

Increases in some grains and pulses were mostly at the expense of oilseeds, with land in canola and soybeans dropping from last year's levels.

Statistics Canada's estimates were based on a survey of around 24,500 farmers between May 14 and June 11. Farmers had wrapped up seeding operations by the end of the survey period, but the pace of plantings was slower than last year and the previous five year average until the last week of May. Because seeding was not complete, the August crop report will contain updated area estimates along with initial yield forecasts.

More Lentils, Less Peas

Canadian farmers reported planting 4.2 million acres of lentils in 2020, up 12.0% from 2019. Despite ongoing import tariffs imposed by India, higher lentil area may have been due to higher prices.

Nationally, farmers reported seeding 1.8% fewer dry peas than in 2019 to 4.3 million acres. The decrease was led by Alberta, down 150,100 acres from 2019.

Oilseed Plantings Drop

Across Canada, farmers reported planting 20.8 million acres of canola in 2020, down 0.8% from 2019 as farmers shifted away from oilseeds, potentially because of high global supplies.

Saskatchewan farmers reported planting 11.3 million acres of canola in 2020, down 1.8% from 2019. In Alberta, canola area was down 1.0% from 2019 to 5.9 million acres Farmers in Manitoba reported that canola area was up 3.2% to 3.4 million acres.

Canadian farmers reported 11.3% less area seeded to soybeans compared with a year earlier to 5.1 million acres in 2020. Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec, the three largest soybean-producing provinces, all reported planting fewer acres. Lower planted acres may have been the result of farmers moving away from oilseeds due to high global stocks.

Manitoba led the decrease in soybean area, down 21.8% from the previous year to 1.1 million acres in 2020. This marks the second consecutive year of lower seeded area in the province, after peaking in 2017, and the smallest seeded area since 2014. Lower seeded area may also be attributable to poor yields over the past several years.

Farmers in Ontario reported planting 8.5% fewer acres of soybeans to 2.9 million acres, while farmers in Quebec reported planting 885,500 acres of soybeans, down 2.3% from the previous year.

Wheat Area Up 1.5%

Nationally, farmers reported planting 25.0 million acres of wheat in 2020, up 1.5% from 2019. Higher wheat area was led by durum wheat, which rose 16.2% to 5.7 million acres, while winter wheat increased 45.9% to 1.4 million acres.

The increase in durum wheat area may have been attributable to favorable prices and low carry-out stocks from the previous crop year, while the gains in winter wheat area were due to less winterkill compared with a year earlier. In contrast, spring wheat area fell 4.6% to 17.9 million acres, possibly due to high carry-in stocks from the previous year.

Saskatchewan farmers reported wheat area falling 0.5% to 12.8 million acres. Spring wheat area decreased 7.5% to 8.1 million acres, while durum area rose 13.3% to 4.6 million acres.

In Alberta, wheat area edged down 0.3% to 7.4 million acres. Spring wheat area decreased 4.2% to 6.3 million acres, while durum wheat rose 30.6% to 1.0 million acres.

Farmers in Manitoba reported that total wheat planting edged up 0.2% to 3.2 million acres.

Little Overall Change in Coarse Grains

Total area seeded to barley rose by 1.4% in 2020 to 7.5 million acres, the highest reported seeded area since 2009. The increase was driven by Alberta, where farmers reported planting 2.8% more barley to 3.7 million acres. Farmers in Saskatchewan planted 0.8% less to 3.1 million acres.

Area seeded to oats rose 6.5% to 3.8 million acres in 2020. Saskatchewan, the largest oat-producing province, rose 3.3% to 1.9 million acres compared with 2019. The increase in oats may have been due to strong prices as a result of higher demand.

Farmers reported planting 3.7% fewer acres of corn for grain from a year earlier to 3.6 million acres in 2020.

Ontario, the largest corn-producing province, reported planting 2.2 million acres in 2020, down 0.5% from 2019. Farmers in Quebec reported seeded area falling 5.7% to 890,800 acres. Area seeded to corn for grain in Manitoba declined 19.0% to 372,300 acres.