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Canola topping wheat in Canada

Updated: 03/09/2012 @ 8:10am

A sea of yellow is anticipated this spring across Canada as producers continue to be mesmerized by the attractive financial returns of growing canola.

The magnitude of the interest in growing canola could result in wheat being surpassed as the country's top crop for the first time ever in history.

All the economic indicators are pointing toward farmers in western Canada looking at planting a significant area of canola in spring 2012, Mike Jubinville, an analyst with ProFarmer Canada in Winnipeg, Manitoba, said. He said cropping indicators are putting canola into the top three crops being considered by farmers.

Industry participants, based on conditions heading into the spring, are estimating farmers will seed anywhere from 19.0 million to 22.0 million acres of canola, establishing a new record. In 2011, a record 18.862 million acres of canola were planted in Canada.

"There is no doubt that canola remains a favourite cropping alternative among Canadian farmers," Ron Frost, an analyst with Frost Forecast Consulting of Calgary, Alberta, said.

In conversation with producers in northern Alberta, who farm anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 acres of farmland each, Frost said there was strong consideration by those individuals to plant 100% canola on that acreage. Typically, farmers with that kind of farm land diversify crops to cover variances in the market.

Frost said his personal estimate for canola area in Canada was in the range of 19.34 million acres. In late February, the market-analysis division of Agriculture Canada forecast Canadian canola area would come in at 19.768 million acres.

Jubinville, meanwhile, said canola plantings this spring would fall into the range of 19.0 million to 20.0 million acres. However, he too has heard the rumblings of seeded area to canola being as high as 22.0 million acres.

"The amount of area that will be planted to canola in Canada in 2012 could also conceivably push above Europe's traditional rapeseed acreage that is generally in the 20 million acre range," Jubinville said.

More than 20 million acres of canola would mark the first time ever that seeded area to canola in Canada exceeded that of Europe. Due to poor planting conditions, some suspect Europe's rapeseed area will be hard-pressed to top 18 million acres this year.

"The need to produce a large canola crop in Canada is certainly there," Frost said, pointing to record domestic usage and strong demand from the export sector. The reduced rapeseed potential from Europe only will add to the need for Canada to increase canola production.

Agriculture Canada, with its 19.768 million acre forecast, is expecting canola production in 2012-13 to hit a record 15.0 million tonnes, which would be up 6% from the record 14.165 million produced in 2011-12.

Canadian Grain Commission statistics reveal Canada has exported 5.15 million tonnes of canola as of mid-February in the 2011-12 season, which compares with 3.95 million at the same point the previous year. That is a record pace, and could easily contribute to drawing stocks down below the one million tonne level by the time 2012 production starts to become available.

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Northern Alberta 03/08/2012 @ 11:09pm As a Northern Alberta producer, I really don't put much stock into the idea that very many guys are considering seeding all of their acres to canola. Oat acres are certainly going to drop as its currently not price competitive with the other major crops, I think wheat acres will drop a little due to the uncertainty with the demise of the wheat board and the lack of clarity in contracts for wheat in the coming crop year, pea acres will climb as will canola. That said I don't know a single producer in my area, myself included who is considering 100% canola; rotations here have already been pushed to the limit and many producers have experienced canola on canola crop wrecks in the past. If wheat was two dollars yes it would be a sea of yellow, but with pea prices strong, and with cereals having alot of potential if a crop problem developes somewhere in the world most guys are sticking to rotations. At least thats the sense I'm getting.

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John Walter Re: Re: Northern Alberta 03/13/2012 @ 2:09pm Anthony: Thanks much for the good comments. You inspired me to write a follow-up piece to this story: http://www.agriculture.com/news/crops/sea-of-yellow-rising-on-prairies_2-ar22909 Good luck with your planting this spring! -- John Walter

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