* Canola seen 20.4 mln acres vs trade view 20.6 mln acres
* All-wheat seen 24.3 mln acres vs trade 23.4 mln acres
(Adds U.S. analyst's comments)
By Rod Nickel
WINNIPEG, Manitoba, April 24 Canadian farmers
intend to plant nearly a million acres more wheat than the
industry expected in the first year of an open grain market,
along with a record-large canola crop, Statistics Canada
reported Tuesday in its initial forecast of 2012 planting
Drier-than-normal weather in Western Canada, stretching back
to last summer, brought millions of previously flooded acres
back into production this spring, lifting plantings of most
All-wheat plantings may rise 13 percent to 24.3 million
acres (9.8 million hectares) from last year's 21.5 million
acres, blowing away the average trade estimate of 23.4 million
acres in the first year farmers can sell their wheat or barley
to buyers other than the Canadian Wheat Board.
A new Canadian law will end the Wheat Board's 69-year-old
marketing monopoly on western wheat and durum for export or
human consumption on Aug. 1, allowing farmers to sell their next
crops to any buyer, not just the CWB.
Manitoba farmer Doug Chorney, who heads Keystone
Agricultural Producers, said farmers' bullishness about wheat is
less about the marketing change than high prices.
"I've been able to forward-sell my spring wheat at very good
prices. Producers are fairly bullish on wheat this year," he
Some farmers who pushed Ottawa for years to create an open
wheat market are expanding wheat acres because of the monopoly
ending, but others are guided by prices, said Norm Hall, who
will plant wheat, flax, canola and peas near Wynyard,
Saskatchewan this spring. He is president of the Agricultural
Producers Association of Saskatchewan.
Chorney said farmers have to grow some cereal grains for
rotational reasons, and he switched all of his cereal seeding
plans to spring wheat instead of oats because of better returns.
Canada is the biggest exporter of spring wheat, durum, oats
Western Canada's wheat acres, like those in the U.S.
northern Plains, are getting a boost from a dry spring after two
years of severe floods, said Mike Krueger, president of the
Money Farm grain marketing advisory service near Fargo, North
"They have had big fallow acres for the previous two years
because of very wet conditions. So acres did not get planted in
2010 and especially in 2011," he said.
Statistics Canada surveyed 13,432 farmers across the country
between March 23 and 30. However, planting has just started in
pockets of the Prairies.
"I don't think the numbers will be taken all that seriously
yet," said Ken Ball, a commodity broker at Union Securities in
Winnipeg. "It's an intentions report, not an acreage report, and
farmers continue to make changes to acreage plans all through
Durum wheat area looks to span 5.1 million acres, up 27
percent from last year and a big jump from the average trade
estimate of 4.5 million acres for the wheat used in making
The area set for spring wheat, used in baking, looks to
expand a more modest 9 percent to 17.2 million acres.
Minneapolis December spring wheat futures were
higher in early trading Tuesday, but lagged gains in the winter
wheat traded in Chicago and Kansas City.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Monday that U.S.
spring wheat plantings were more than half complete, far ahead
of the usual pace.
Weather during the next four months will ultimately
determine how big Canada's autumn wheat harvest will be, but the
jump in acres points toward larger production.
Assuming normal levels of abandoned acres and yields,
Canadian all-wheat production could total nearly 27 million
tonnes this year, the largest in four years, and about 4 percent
of the global wheat harvest.
Canola acres will reach 20.4 million acres, up from last
year's record-large area of 18.9 million acres, and in line with
the average trade estimate of 20.6 million acres.
It would be the sixth straight year farmers have raised the
record planting level.
With canola prices not far off contract highs, the oilseed
stands to possibly snatch more acres back from wheat and barley,
said Keith Ferley, a commodity trader at RBC Capital Markets.
ICE Canada November new-crop canola futures extended
their gains after the report. Strong demand for vegetable oil,
the most lucrative use for canola, has driven up demand for the
oilseed from Canadian crushers and exporters.
Oat plantings look to be 3.4 million acres, just as traders
forecast, and compared to 3.1 million acres a year ago.
Statscan expects farmers to plant 8 million acres of barley,
up by nearly one-quarter from last year, and higher than trade
expectations for 7.7 million acres.
(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Alex Paterson in Ottawa
and Julie Ingwersen in Chicago; Editing by John Picinich and