StatsCan production survey timing likely to skew results

CNS Canada — Production of Canada’s major crops is generally expected to be down on the year after an adverse growing season in many areas.

However, actual production may not end up as low as the estimates set to be released by Statistics Canada on Thursday, due to the timing of the survey.

The survey was conducted in late July, before any producers were really getting into the harvest, which will have the industry taking the results “with a grain of salt,” according to Jon Driedger of FarmLink Marketing, who noted the situation was looking much more dire for many growers at that time.

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“We’ve had a few rains since then… And I wouldn’t be surprised if StatsCan came in lower than where we eventually end up,” he said.

“The survey was done right when the drought was at its peak, and farmers were very negative on yields,” said Bruce Burnett, director of markets and weather with Glacier FarmMedia.

As a result, “even if (Aug. 31) numbers come in below average expectations, there will be an assumption by the trade that things will go higher,” he added, noting early harvest results were already beating expectations.

“Farmers want to be conservative when they’re looking at their crops,” he said, noting that while yields will be low in the drought-stricken areas, they likely weren’t as low as expected.

“It’s not necessarily about the quantity we produce in Western Canada, it’s also about the quality,” said Burnett. After excessive moisture caused disease issues for grain and pulse crops in 2016, the 2017 crops will be hitting higher grades.

Burnett said the quality of peas and lentils is especially better on the year, which should bode well for exports.

After growing 31.7 million tonnes of wheat in 2016-17, pre-report estimates on the size of the 2017-18 Canadian wheat crop range from 22.8 million to 27.8 million tonnes.

Of that total, durum is forecast at 4.2 million to 5.3 million tonnes, which compares with 7.8 million the previous year.

Canada’s canola crop is forecast at 17 million to 19.5 million tonnes, which compares with 18.4 million tonnes in 2016-17.

— Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. Follow him at @PhilFW on Twitter.

Table: A quick summary of pre-report estimates ahead of the Statistics Canada production report due out Aug. 31, 2017. Production in millions of metric tonnes.

Pre-report ideas.     .2016-17
Durum wheat.    .4.200 – 5.3007.762
All wheat22.800 – 27.80031.729
Oats3.100 – 3.6003.147
Barley6.700 – 7.7508.784
Flaxseed0.500 – 0.6250.579
Canola17.000 – 19.50018.424
Peas3.400 – 4.0004.834
Lentils1.900 – 2.8003.248

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