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Canada Canola Outlook Weakens, Gro Models Show

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Canada’s canola crop is straining under hot and dry weather conditions that threaten to reduce harvests in the world’s biggest producer of the popular vegetable oil. 

Canada’s canola production potential will be critical this year as global stocks of rapeseed and other major oilseeds, such as US soybeans, are minimal and Russia blockades Ukrainian sunflower oil exports, as Gro wrote about here. In addition, Russia’s Ministry of Agriculture announced it was extending an existing ban on rapeseed exports for another six months, through February 2024. 

Gro’s vegetative health index, weighted for Canada’s canola growing regions, has slumped over the past three weeks, as seen in this display from Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator for Agriculture. That comes amid a steady decline in soil moisture levels — currently the lowest since at least 2010 —  and a rise in the Gro Drought Index, which currently indicates “moderate” drought conditions across canola planted areas. 

Alberta, the second-biggest canola producing province after Saskatchewan, is the driest, with Gro Drought Index readings bordering on “severe” drought conditions, as shown in this Gro Navigator display. GFS forecasts in Gro call for limited rain this week across Canada’s canola belt. 

Canola is the second-largest produced crop in Canada, behind wheat. This season, Canadian canola farmers increased acreage for spring planting: StatCan projects canola planted area will increase 3.2% year over year to 8.9 million hectares (22 million acres). Canada has nearly doubled its canola acreage since the early 2000s. 

Canola, the genetically modified version of rapeseed, is used for cooking and baking at home, restaurants, and in food processing plants. Canola oil also has non-food uses in biodiesel and bio-plastics. Canola meal, the part left over after the seeds are crushed and the oil extracted, is used for animal feed, pet food, and fertilizer.

Global edible oil supplies also are forecast to be negatively impacted in the coming months as the El Niño weather pattern strengthens, likely bringing smaller yields from palm oil plantations in key producers Indonesia and Malaysia, as Gro wrote about here. And in Australia, canola production could drop following three straight years of bumper harvests. ABARES projects a 41% year-over-year decline in canola production to 4.9 million tonnes in 2023/24, a four-year low. 

This season’s dry conditions also are weighing on Canada’s spring wheat crop. Accumulated precipitation is 30% below the 10-year average, the lowest amount since 2009, Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator for Agriculture shows. And yield projections by Gro's Canada Spring Wheat Yield Forecast Model have dropped significantly since the model went live for the season. The machine-learning model provides daily updated predictions of final yields down to the provincial level. 

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