Canada's sowings of grains and oilseeds are to fall for the
first time in four years, undermined by lower prices and "burdensome" stocks, with
some concerns over a hangover from a cold winter on the pace of spring sowings.
Canada's farm department, AAFC, trimmed by 125,000 hectares to
26.75m hectares its forecast for domestic sowings of crops from canola to wheat
While only a small downgrade, it took the estimate for
seedings below last year's 26.80m hectares, representing the first decline
since 2010, when area tumbled by more than 3.5m hectares thanks to wet spring
The downgrade reflected lower expectations for barley and
corn sowings. The department was already factoring in a 65% drop in sowings of
wheat, the modest widely planted crop "because of lower prices and high
Indeed, the department said that "burdensome carry-in stocks
will be an over-riding issue for 2014-15" for Canadian crop markets in general,
reaching record levels in corn, which with the development of improved seed has
become a widely-grown crop in recent years, overtaking oats in sowing
While AAFC forecast that domestic crop prices will feel some
support from a weaker Canadian dollar, corn values "are forecast to decrease due
to abundant global supply, especially in North America", the department said.
For barley, "domestic and world prices are forecast to
decrease due to large supplies of coarse grains and a general downturn in grain
The department made only small upgrades to estimates for
Canadian barley and oats inventories at the close of 2013-14, and none to other
crops, despite the well-publicised delays to Canadian logistics from cold
weather on rail transport and, most recently, a truckers' strike at the port of
'Rather late start of
The revisions to sowings estimates also come amid some concerns
that the hangover from a harsh winter, billed as the worst in 20 years,
presents a hurdle to sowings too.
While winter has "finally started to break in Western Canada
and the melt has begun, some areas of Manitoba have reported their frost depths
are twice what is typically normal," Darren Smith at RMI Analytics said.
"It will take significant warm temperatures to get the
ground warm enough to allow for grain germination.
"For the time being we have to expect a rather late start of
plantings of malting barley and other spring crops."
Separately, the US NOAA weather service forecast a "risk of
moderate flooding" this spring on the Red river, which flows into Manitoba and
Lake Winnipeg, as snow melts.
On the pulses
Nonetheless, AAFC maintained expectations of a rise in
Canadian crop sowings overall this year, reflecting ideas of a rise in pulse
plantings offsetting most of the drop in grain seedings.
Sowings of dry peas are forecast to increase by nearly 10% to
1.5m hectares, "because of higher returns relative to other crops, and
continued recognition of dry peas as part of a crop rotation plan", the
Lentil sowings will rise 13.6% to 1.1m hectares "due to
competitive returns relative to other crops".