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Pulse Market Insight #230

Several years ago, StatsCan started responding to feedback about farmers’ “survey fatigue”. StatsCan shifted its August and September yield reports away from farmer surveys and used satellite vegetation images and computer models. Now, StatsCan has decided that asking about farmers’ seeding intentions in spring could be rolled into an existing survey that’s done in mid-December to mid-January.

Some parts of farmers’ crop rotations and acreage were already decided by mid-winter, but certainly not all, as the 2022/23 marketing year wasn’t even half over. Crop insurance coverage rates hadn’t been announced and for some crops, new-crop bids weren’t even available yet. Markets still had a lot of time to change and price relationships for the various crops were still evolving.

Some people might think this is just some whining from market analysts. My response is that reliable estimates are important for all market players, especially farmers. The grain industry can gather information from other sources. And while farmers have an informal network, StatsCan “democratizes” market information – if it’s done right.

Because the StatsCan acreage survey was conducted 3-4 months ago when things looked very different, its estimates should be viewed with a lot of caution. Among pulse crops for example, spot bids for yellow peas have dropped 12% since mid-January while red lentil bids are up 9%. New-crop bids have slipped 2% for yellow peas and are up 5% for greens. New-crop red lentil bids are 16% higher than mid-January and large greens are 24% higher. Plus, prices for competing cereal and oilseed crops have also moved. Some of these changes are large enough to cause second thoughts about planting plans.

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