Planted acreage reports raise questions with larger corn area

Both the Statistics Canada and USDA reports showed larger-than-expected corn acreage

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Statistics Canada’s June estimate of Ontario corn acres puts the expected acreage at 2.2 million acres, up 2.2 per cent from last year.

That’s raised some eyebrows, as farmers across the province struggled to get corn planted due to cool and wet weather. They’ve now switched to soybeans due to the fact that the window to plant corn has passed. Little corn is planted past mid-June.

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Why it matters: The number of acres planted of each crop is one factor that sets prices. Government reports provide one of the influences on those crop estimates and as a result, prices.

“I still think 2.2 (million acres) seems a little high, a little steep,” says Matthew Pot, an economist with Grain Perspectives, based in Ontario. “I would lean more toward two million (acres) and less, closer to 1.9 million.”

Pot says the ability to forecast crops acres across Ontario and the major corn and soybean growing acres of the U.S. is a tough challenge this year.

In Ontario, regions such as Chatham-Kent and Lambton County, along with Niagara have little corn planted. But Pot points out they are not the largest corn producing areas of the province. Other parts of the province such as Huron, Perth, Oxford and Bruce counties were able to mostly get the corn in that they needed.

Corn price has been rising as traders deal with what looked like a loss in acres in the Midwest U.S.

However, like the Statistics Canada report, the last USDA planting report, released June 28, shows a large increase in corn planted or intension to plant acres. An expected decline in corn acres hasn’t materialized, according to the USDA, with corn acres estimated at 91.1 million acres and soybeans at 85 million acres. That’s a drop of about four million acres in soybean planting intensions. Many farmers have shied away from soybeans due to the large carryover in soybeans due to trade tensions with China. However, the USDA report shows that corn stocks are also increasing. Neither trend is supportive of prices.

Both surveys were done in early June, when corn prices hit five-year highs, so it is likely that farmers were deciding they were still going to plant corn due to economics. The question yet to be answered is if those acres were actually planted.

Pot says he talked to some farmers in Ontario who planted more than they originally planned in corn acres due to economics and the fact they had soil that was good enough to plant.

The other unknown factor in this challenging planting season is the fact that wheat was planted late last fall and significant acres were killed and replanted, mostly into corn.

Nationally in Canada, corn planting was expected to rise by 1.9 per cent to 3.7 million acres. Corn planting in Quebec was down to 945,000 acres, but rose in Manitoba.

Soybean acres are also expected to be up in Ontario, according to the Statistics Canada report, to a record 3.1 million acres. Nationally, soybeans planting was expected to drop by more than nine per cent, mostly because of a second consecutive year of significant decline in Manitoba, by 22 per cent.

Across the country, canola acres were expected to decline by about two million acres from last year to 20.9 million acres, according to the Statistics Canada report.

The reduction in canola area “was not super surprising, given how dry it was and some of the lower prices as guys were making seeding decisions,” said market analyst Jonathon Driedger, of FarmLink Marketing Solutions.

Pot pointed out that the June numbers are not final crops numbers and the more important indicators will come after planters stop moving and the crop gets growing.

– With files from MarketsFarm

About the author

Editor

John Greig has spent his career in agriculture journalism and communications. He lives on a farm near Ailsa Craig, Ontario. Contact John at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @jgreig

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