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Spring wheat outlook seen taking back seat
World fundamentals are generally supportive for durum and even winter wheat, but spring wheat acreage is expected to suffer in Canada during the upcoming 2008-09 crop year.

"The extra winter wheat and durum plantings will come at the expense of spring wheat in the spring of 2008," said market analyst Greg Kostal of Kostal Ag Consulting in a presentation during Crop Production Week in Saskatoon.

He acknowledged winter wheat acres in Western Canada have already been established and while the final numbers were still being tabulated, the figures are expected to show a substantial jump.

Winter wheat area in Western Canada in the fall of 2007 was believed to have jumped at least five per cent from the year-ago level, said Jake Davidson, executive manager with Winter Cereals Canada.

Winter wheat seeding in the fall of 2006 totalled roughly 1.1 million acres, according to data from Statistics Canada. In the fall of 2005, winter wheat area in Western Canada totalled 690,000 acres.

The jump in winter wheat area was encouraged by a number of factors, Kostal said. One was that winter wheat is not as exposed to diseases such as fusarium and to insect damage.

The crop also spreads the work load around for producers and typically yields more.

Findings have shown that winter wheat in Western Canada have generally been yielding 40 per cent more than spring wheat varieties, Kostal noted.

"The additional yields compensates for the lower price received by winter wheat varieties," he said.

Kostal also pointed out that spring wheat yield improvements and yield genetics have just not kept up with the developments winter wheat and durum wheat varieties have experienced.

Durum area was also expected to gain at the expense of spring wheat, Kostal said.

"Durum area in the spring of 2008 could easily be up a couple of million acres based on current economic signals," Kostal said. In the spring of 2007, 4.815 million acres were seeded to durum, Statistics Canada figures show.

Of the potential two million-acre increase in durum, two- thirds of that area will be drawn from spring wheat, he said.

Durum plantings were also expected to draw some area out of barley and possibly oats as well, Kostal said.

"As Western Canadian producers begin bundling all the factors that are supportive of wheat varieties other than spring wheat, and experiencing consistently longer-term growth benefits, the trend of lower spring wheat area will continue," Kostal said.

Even though prices for spring wheats have climbed considerably, he said, the value has just not been "juicy" enough to remain attractive for producers.

Spring wheat area in Canada in the spring of 2007 totalled 15.215 million acres, Statistics Canada figures show.
MGR Archive 13.1.2008
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