OTTAWA, ONTARIO, CANADA – Canadian soybean exports to China more than tripled through the first half of marketing year 2018-19, bolstered by Eastern Canadian access to U.S. soybean imports and record high production in Ontario, according to a March 14 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Total soybean production decreased by 13% in 2018-19, despite Ontario’s record output as planted area declined in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, USDA said.

USDA said it predicts another big soybean crop in Ontario in 2019-20 and further declines in the Prairies, where canola, wheat, durum, green peas and flax offer better gross margins.

It noted that while canola production decreased 5% in 2018-19, total supplies remained relatively flat due to high ending stocks the previous year.

“Canola exports were down 14% for the first half of 2018-19, in part driven by traditional importers substituting Canadian canola for U.S. soybeans,” USDA said.

USDA predicts increased canola planted area in 2019-20, “despite an uncertain global oilseed market and agronomic concerns associated with the spread of clubroot.”

It predicts slightly higher canola crush and substantially higher soybean crush in 2018-19, with canola facilities expected to hit virtual limits on crushing capacity as lower exports increase returns to domestic crushing.

Soybean crushing, which entered the marketing year with ample slack in crushing capacity, has been bolstered by a doubling of soybean meal exports to the European Union through the first half of 2018-19.