THIS SEASON’S crop production in Canada increased dramatically on the back of vastly improved growing conditions across most of the country compared to the 2021-22 season when Statistics Canada released its final field crop production estimates for the year last Friday.
The higher production was primarily driven by significantly higher yields and a lower abandoned area, with the severe drought that dominated the previous season loosening its grip in most regions throughout 2022.
With a return to a more productive season comes a more significant involvement in the global export playground and some added competition for Australian exporters into several Asian destinations. The United States Department of Agriculture has Canadian wheat exports jumping by 73pc from 15 million tonnes (Mt) in the 2021-22 marketing year to 26Mt in the current marketing year, with milling quality volumes expected to be the big mover.
Canola exports are forecast to rebound by 51pc from 5.3Mt to 8Mt year on year, with Japan, China and Mexico likely to be the primary beneficiaries. However, with canola oil-derived renewable diesel now qualifying as an advanced biofuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard, exports to the United States are expected to increase sharply.
The USDA has barley exports making a 50pc recovery from 2Mt to 3Mt, with much of the increase expected to be in the malting barley category. And Canada continues its domination of international oat trade, forecast to account for 68pc of global exports in 2022-23 following a 50pc hike to 1.8Mt. Australia is the other major player in that arena, with around 19pc of the niche market, down from 28pc last season.
The results were based on feedback for 27,200 producers interviewed in the October 7 to November 14 period. Farmers were invited to report estimates of seeded and harvested areas, yields and total production of grains, oilseeds and special crops. This report provides some ground-truthing for the production estimate reports released during the growing season, which used predictive modelling based on satellite imagery and agroclimatic data to arrive at a yield forecast.
The grower feedback and data collected by local government crop inspectors in a series of field walks conducted before, during and after harvest all pointed to lower average yields in many regions than the predictive model suggested. This led to some downward production revisions compared to the most recent model-based estimates released in mid-November, although barley and oats did buck that trend.
The report’s highlight was total field-crop production pegged at 96.06Mt, the third highest on record. It was 10.4pc above the five-year average and 34pc higher than the 71.66Mt produced a season earlier. The two biggest-ever field crop production years in Canada were 2020-21 with 100.05Mt and 2013-14 with 97.95Mt.
Total wheat production rose by 51.7pc year on year to 33.8Mt, the third highest on record. This was almost 900,000t, or 2.5pc, lower than the model-based estimate. Durum wheat production ended up at 5.4Mt compared to 6.1Mt in the November report using model data; winter and spring wheat production totalled 28.4Mt collectively, against 28.6Mt using the predictive model approach. The average yield across all provinces was 3.36t/ha, and the harvested area rose by 9.7pc to 10.1Mha.
In Saskatchewan, the average wheat yield increased by 47.3pc to 2.78t/ha, while harvested area rose by 13.5pc to 5.3Mha, resulting in a 67.2pc rise in production to 14.8Mt. The production turnaround was even more dramatic in Alberta, rising 76.7pc year-on-year to 11.3Mt. Yields were up 59.8pc to 3.74t/ha and the harvested area increased by 10.6pc.
Canola, barley up
Canola is the second-biggest field crop in Canada by area and production, although it did challenge wheat’s mantle in terms of the harvested area last season. Statistics Canada posted a final canola production figure of 18.2Mt, 32.1pc higher than in 2021-22. Yield was the big swinger, up by 37.6pc to 2.11t/ha, while the harvested area fell by 3.9pc to 8.6Mha. However, the final output was more than 900,000t, or 4.8pc below the predictive model, due to lower-than-expected yield feedback in the grower survey.
Barley production rose 43.5pc compared to last season to a tick under 10Mt. While the harvested area was down by 12.3pc to 6.5Mha, the average national yield rose a whopping 63.7pc to 3.79t/ha due to much better seasonal conditions, particularly in the western Prairies. The predictive model had barley production of nearly 600,000t, or 5.9pc, lower at just over 9.4Mt.
Oats, peas, lentils jump
One of the biggest surprises was the massive jump in oat output. Production increased 86.1pc from 2.8Mt last season to 5.2Mt this season on the compounding effects of a 19.2pc hike in the harvested area to 1.4Mha and a 56.2pc increase in yield to 3.5t/ha. The November report had the crop at 4.7Mt.
On the pulse front, dry field pea production increased 51.6pc from 2.3Mt last harvest to 3.4Mt this harvest, off a smaller harvested area. Lentil production rose 43.2pc compared to the previous season to 2.3Mt, off a similar harvested area.
Summer-crop production also rose, with corn the star. Total corn production rose 4pc to a record 14.5Mt this season. Harvested area was the most significant influence, rising 3.8pc to 1.5Mha, with yield unchanged. Soybean production improved by 4.3pc to 6.5Mt on the back of a 0.7pc decrease in the harvested area offset by a 5pc increase in yield.