Market uncertainty is making farmers stick to what they know, a producer said
By Diego Flammini
Manitoba wheat farmers are bucking the trend compared to producers in other Prairie provinces.
Planted wheat acres in Manitoba are up 8.8 per cent compared to 2018’s figures, Statistics Canada’s acreage report said on June 26. This year, Manitoba farmers planted 3.2 million acres of wheat.
Farmers in Alberta and Saskatchewan reported a 0.4 and 1 per cent decline in wheat plantings, respectively. Nationally, planted wheat acreage is down 0.6 per cent to 24.6 million acres, the report said.
Multiple factors, including weather and innovation, factor into Manitoba’s uptick in wheat seeding, said Fred Greig, a producer from Reston, Man., and chair of the Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association.
“I think the wheat has performed very well in some adverse weather conditions,” he told Farms.com. “A good portion of Manitoba was drier than normal, which cereals handle quite a bit better. With the newer varieties, yields have really ratcheted up and farmers are taking advantage of that.”
Trade uncertainty could also be responsible for farmers’ decisions to seed more wheat.
With some markets closing its borders to Canadian products, growers may feel more confident planting what they’re comfortable with, Greig said.
“When there’s so many political things happening, I think it’s best to grow what you grow best and hope the markets figure themselves out,” he said.
Canola acreage in Canada is also on the decline.
National canola acres are down by 8.2 per cent from 2018 to 21 million acres, Stats Can’s report says.
Provincially, canola acres in Saskatchewan are down by 6.5 per cent to 11.6 million. Manitoba growers have scaled back canola seeding by 3.2 per cent to 3.3 million acres, and Alberta canola growers have planted 12.9 per cent fewer acres to 5.9 million acres.
While many people will point to issue with China as the main reason for the acreage reductions, it isn’t the only factor, said Kevin Serfas, vice-chair of the Alberta Canola Producers Commission and a grower from Turin, Alta.
“Weather issues in part of Alberta have been going on for at least three years,” he told Farms.com. “There’s also the dollars invested per acre compared versus the return with a severe lack of moisture.”
Disease management and crop rotation is also contributing to lower canola acres.
“We’ve put on quite the campaign in regard to clubroot, so I would expect that has something to do with the (lower acres) as well,” he said. “Rotations were a little on the tight side and, I think when you coupled the rotations with the China issue, I suspect farmers thought it was the time to get rotations straightened out.”