OTTAWA, ONTARIO, CANADA — Canadian farmers intend to plant more canola but less wheat and oats for harvest in 2021 than expected by the trade, according to data released April 27 by Statistics Canada in its Principal Field Crop Areas report.

Statistics Canada, based on a survey of producers conducted during March, indicated Canadian farmers intend to plant 23.26 million acres to wheat for harvest this year, an area that would be 7% smaller than the 24.98 million acres seeded in 2020. The forecast was below the average of pre-report projections at 23.7 million acres. The recent five-year average all-wheat planted area was 24.3 million acres.

Statistics Canada forecast spring wheat planted area at 16.34 million acres, 8.8% smaller than the 2020 seeded area at 17.926 million acres. Durum plantings were projected at 5.705 million acres, up 0.3% from 5.689 million acres a year ago. Winter wheat planted last fall for harvest this year was estimated at 1.215 million acres, down 11.2% from 1.368 million acres in 2020.

Canadian farmers intend to seed 21.53 million acres to canola this spring, up 3.6% from 20.783 million acres in 2020, according to Statistics Canada. The average of pre-report trade projections was 22.6 million acres.

It would be the first year-over-year increase in canola planted area since 2017 and would be the largest planted area since 22.8 million acres in 2018. The recent five-year average canola planted area was 21.7 million acres.

“High global demand for oilseeds has led to an increase in canola prices, which may influence farmers’ decision to increase seeded area,” Statistics Canada said in comments accompanying the data. “Farmers in Saskatchewan, the largest canola-producing province, anticipate seeding 11.8 million acres of canola, up 4.4% from the same period one year earlier.

“In Alberta, farmers expect seeded area of canola to increase 7.8% to 6.3 million acres. In Manitoba, producers anticipate seeding fewer acres of canola, with expected seeded area falling 5.9% to 3.2 million acres in 2021.”

Area seeded to oats this year was forecast at 3.608 million acres, down 6% from 3.84 million acres in 2020. The decline is forecast “as global oat supplies are anticipated to increase, possibly affecting prices in Canada,” Statistics Canada said.

The recent five-year average Canadian oat planted area was 3.3 million acres.

Statistics Canada said the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 on Canadian and world grain markets, among other reasons, may cause anticipated seeded areas to differ from data on actual seeded areas to be released in June.

“As always, weather may also contribute to changes in seeding decisions,” Statistics Canada said. “During collection of the March crop survey, parts of Western Canada were experiencing particularly dry conditions, with soil moisture estimated well below average levels across much of the Prairies. By comparison, soil moisture conditions in Eastern Canada were considered normal because of average precipitation over the winter.”