Canada’s spring wheat farmers plan to sharply boost planted acreage this season, but growers could face challenges from the region’s continued dry conditions.
So far this year, accumulated rainfall over the Canadian prairies is at one of the lowest levels of this century, according to Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator for Agriculture. And while drought — which afflicted the country’s crop for the past couple of years — has eased markedly, the Gro Drought Index still shows “abnormally dry” conditions in spring wheat growing regions, as seen in this display.
A hearty crop in Canada, the world’s biggest producer of spring wheat, could alleviate potential shortages in the US, where spring wheat planting is off to a slow start as a prolonged winter is now being followed by sodden fields.
In addition, the US winter wheat crop, hit by drought in the southern Plains, is showing the worst good-to-excellent ratings since 1989. Recent rains were insufficient to give the crop much of a boost, according to Gro’s machine-learning US Hard Red Winter Wheat Yield Forecast Model.
Canadian spring wheat, planted mainly in the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, accounts for 75% of the country’s total wheat crop. Gro’s machine-learning Canada Spring Wheat Yield Forecast Model will go live on May 18, providing daily updated predictions down to the provincial level.
StatCan projects spring wheat planted area will increase 7.5% year over year to 7.8 million hectares (19.4 million acres), while total wheat plantings will gain 6.2% to 10.9 million hectares. The acreage expansion will lift Canada’s total wheat area to its highest level since 2001.
StatCan’s 2023 acreage estimates are based on a farmer survey conducted in December and January. Actual planting intentions could have changed in the meantime, especially since the survey timing didn’t account for recent grain price declines as well as information about 2023 crop insurance coverage. In previous years the StatCan survey was conducted in March.
Last year, Canada’s spring wheat production jumped 59% from 2021, when drought levels were at their highest in at least two decades. The production increase helped boost global wheat supplies amid the Russia-Ukraine war. Worldwide, wheat supplies remain tight, with world wheat ending stocks, outside of China, at their lowest level since 2012/13.