OTTAWA, ONTARIO, CANADA — Wheat production in Canada in 2019-20 is forecast to increase with yields returning to historical averages, according to an Aug. 15 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA projects wheat output at 32.6 million tonnes, a 6% increase over the 2018-19 total of 31.7 million tonnes despite a slight decrease in harvested area. Yield is projected to increase to 3.31 tonnes per hectare from 3.22 tonnes.

Exports for the 2018-19 season have been adjusted higher to 24.5 million tonnes with strong demand from China, the USDA said.

“Canada’s share of total Chinese imports of wheat has skyrocketed above 60% in 2018-19, up from 32% in 2017-18, as U.S. wheat exports to China have plunged and Australian exportable supplies have fallen sharply,” the USDA said.

Canadian wheat exports for 2019-20 are forecast to be at or near last year’s total.

Canadian 2018-19 durum exports were up 8% through June, with large volumes moving in the latter half of the marketing year, the USDA said.

“Durum exports to Italy through June increased more than 65% year over year to nearly 590,000 tonnes, after Canadian durum exports to Italy fell sharply in 2017-18 on glyphosate-related concerns,” the USDA said.

The agency noted that Canadian durum exports to Turkey and Japan have also increased, while exports to the U.S. market were down nearly 12%.

The USDA estimates that Canada will rank fifth in wheat production and third in exports in 2018-19.