Canadian farmers' love affair with canola has cooled, with
sowings of the oilseed set to drop for the first time in more than a decade
this year, clearing space for one of the country's biggest ever wheat crops.
Canadian canola plantings are to drop this year by more than
100,000 hectares, ending a long run of increases, data from the Agriculture and
AgriFood Canada (AAFC) farm ministry showed.
The forecast reflected ideas that a poor harvest last year,
when problems such as hot temperatures, moisture stress, high winds and diseases
such as aster yellows, blackleg and sclerotinia were blamed for a 19% slump in
the national yield to 1.55 tonnes per hectare.
AAFC flagged "disease and insect concerns and perceived high
input costs", besides "attractive returns for alternative" crops as reasons prompting
farmers to reconsider their affections for the rapeseed variant, which has
proved a strong earner, helped by demand from China for oilseeds, and by
Canada's production of the oilseed nonetheless looks set to
rebound by 13%, to a record 15.5m tonnes, reflecting an assumption of better
AAFC forecasts, Canada crop sowings 2013-14 and (year-on-year change)
All wheat: 10.25m hectares, (+6.2%)
Canola: 8.60m hectares, (-1.3%)
Barley: 3.15m hectares, (+10.5%)
Soybeans: 1.94m hectares, (+15.5%)
Corn: 1.40m hectares, (-2.4%)
Dry peas: 1.35m hectares, (+2.6%)
And Canadian farmers could be on for a bumper crop too of wheat,
of which sowings are seen rising 7% to 10.25m hectares, boosted by a switch
from canola, lentils and oats, AAAFC said, estimating the harvest at 28.5m
tonnes.Production at that level would come in only slightly behind
the 28.6m tonnes reached in 2008, the biggest crop since the 1990s.
AAFC highlighted potential "good prices" for the grain – expected
for non-durum wheat to average Can$250-285 a tonne, as measured by prices for a
Canadian Wheat Board wheat pool, historically high, if down on the Can$283-315
a tonne forecast for last year's crop, and the Can$292 a tonne achieved in
The extra production will nudge Canada's wheat exports
250,000 tonnes higher to 18.8m tonnes, AAFC said, cautioning that rivalry with
other shippers will prevent a bigger increase.
"Exports are forecast to increase slightly as growing demand
in the world food market is partly offset by more competition in export markets
due to increased world supply."
Indeed, the ministry forecast a 31m-tonne rise to 685m
tonnes in world wheat production in 2013-14, "due mostly to a higher seeded
area and a recovery in production for Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan", where
dryness dented output last year.
The US harvest was seen bucking the trend, after the poor
start to the winter crop, as highlighted in data on crops in Kansas and
Oklahoma, and forecast falling 3m tonnes to 59m tonnes.
"The average farm price is forecast to decrease from $7.90 a
bushel to $7.10 a bushel because of the higher world supply and higher US