WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Canada’s total production of wheat, barley, corn and oats is forecast to reach 53.6 million tonnes in 2016-17, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) said in an April 29 report. This is a 1.5% increase from 2015-16 production levels. Wheat and barley production are forecast to increase by 4% and 1.3%, respectively, from 2015-16. Corn production is forecast to drop by 1.6%. Total imports are forecast to fall nearly 5% due mainly to higher domestic supplies of barley in 2016-17. Total exports, mainly wheat, are forecast to drop nearly 9% due to lower domestic supplies and lower carry-in of wheat. Wheat ending stocks are projected to drop to a record low.

Low prices relative to alternative crops combined with limited productivity gains are leading Canadian wheat farmers to seed 1.3% less area to wheat in 2016-17. However, winter wheat area is up significantly in 2016-17, masking the decline in spring wheat area. Planting intentions published by Statistics Canada suggest that farmers are switching from wheat to more area planted to durum, corn, and pulse crops.

Canadian farmers reported that they will be planting 5.2% more area to durum wheat. However, this increase is offset by a 5.7% in spring wheat area. Area seeded to winter wheat is also reported up significantly and reflects a return to more normal levels after back-to-back poor crops. The report has adopted these seeding intentions and forecasts area harvested to wheat to fall to 9.547 million hectares, 30,000 hectares below 2015-16 area harvested.

The report forecasts wheat production to increase 4% to 28.7 million tonnes. The decline in area seeded will be more than offset assuming average yields.

The report has adopted the Statistics Canada corn seeding intensions and forecasts area harvested to rise to 1.39 million hectares, nearly 6% higher than 2015-16. The increase in area seeded to corn is forecast to be offset by a return to average yields resulting in Canadian corn production of 13.35 million tonnes for 2016-17. This is 1.6% below 2015-16.

In Canada, the largest market for corn is livestock feed, followed by ethanol production. No change in renewable fuels mandates is expected in Canada in 2016-17 that would impact the demand for ethanol.  

Ethanol usage in 2015-16 is expected to increase in response to more gasoline consumption resulting from lower gas prices. This increase is reflected in the report expecting a FSI consumption to reach 5.45 million tonnes, 50,000 tonnes above USDA official number.

Imports are expected to remain at 1 million tonnes in 2016-17, mainly to meet the needs of the Canadian ethanol industry. Corn exports are expected to drop to 500,000 tonnes in 2016-17 from 1 million tonnes in 2015-16.

Statistics Canada planting intentions for barley indicate that farmers intend to plant more barley in 2016-17. Area seeded is projected 3.7% above 2015-16. Alberta and Saskatchewan are the largest barley producing provinces in Canada, together accounting for 86% of the Canadian barley production. The report has adopted these intentions and, assuming average yields, forecasts barley production to reach 8.33 million tonnes, 1.3% above 2015-16 levels of 8.226 million tonnes. Canada is the fourth largest barley producer in the world.