Canadian farmers reported seeding record areas of canola and soybeans in 2017, with the canola area exceeding wheat (all varieties combined) for the first time ever.
According to its June 29 report on principal field crop areas, Statistics Canada says seeded acreage of corn for grain and oats also increased. Meanwhile, the areas seeded to all wheat, lentils and barley declined from 2016.
Due to unseasonal early snow last fall, harvesting in some parts of the country was delayed until this spring. Additionally, localized areas reported very wet spring conditions and some flooding occurred in Ontario and Quebec. These conditions may have affected some of the seeded areas reported.
Nationally, the total area seeded to soybeans rose to a record high 7.3 million acres in 2017, up 33.2% from 2016. The four largest soybean producing provinces (Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec and Saskatchewan), which account for 99% of the national total, all reached record high levels for seeded soybean acres this year.
In Ontario, farmers seeded 3.1 million acres in 2017, up 13.5% from last year. Manitoba farmers continued their trend of planting more soybean acres, seeding 2.3 million acres in 2017, up 40.1% compared with 2016.
In Quebec, the soybean area increased 22.5% from 2016 to 983,500 acres in 2017, while Saskatchewan farmers seeded 850,000 acres to the crop this year (+254.2%).
Corn for grain
Canadian farmers reported planting 3.6 million acres of corn for grain in 2017, an increase of 7.5% from 2016.
In Ontario, farmers planted 2.1 million acres of corn for grain in 2017, an increase of 4.7% compared with last year. The area seeded to corn for grain in Quebec also rose this year and was reported at 939,000 acres (+5.6%).
Meanwhile, farmers in Manitoba planted 410,000 acres of corn for grain in 2017, up 18.8% from 2016 and a record level seeded for the province.
Canadian farmers reported an overall decrease in the area sown to wheat in 2017, down 3.7% from 2016 to 22.4 million acres. The decrease was the result of a 15.9% drop in area seeded to durum wheat, which fell to 5.2 million acres in 2017. Conversely, the area seeded to spring wheat rose 2.5% to 15.8 million acres.
Canadian farmers reported seeding a record high 22.8 million acres of canola in 2017, up 12.1% from the 20.4 million acres reported in 2016.
The overall increase in canola seeded area was the result of record highs in Saskatchewan and Alberta. Farmers in Saskatchewan planted 12.6 million acres of canola in 2017, up 13.6% from 2016. Meanwhile, producers in Alberta sowed 6.9 million acres of canola this year, an increase of 16.5%. Manitoba farmers seeded 3.1 million acres this year, down 1.1% from a year ago.
In Ontario, farmers planted 45,000 acres of canola, 10,000 more than last year.
Barley and oats
Nationally, the total area seeded to barley fell 9.7% from 2016 to 5.8 million acres in 2017. Alberta and Saskatchewan accounted for almost 90% of the national barley seeded area in 2017.
The total acreage seeded to oats rose 13.6% from 2016 to 3.2 million acres in 2017. In Saskatchewan, farmers planted 1.7 million acres (+20.3%), while Alberta’s acreage decreased 4.2% to 690,000 acres.
The barley acreage in Ontario is pegged at 85,000, which is 15,000 less than last year.
Oat acreage rose 10,000 acres to 70,000.
Total area seeded to lentils decreased 24.8% from last year’s record high, to 4.4 million acres in 2017. This decline was mainly attributable to Saskatchewan’s lentil area (which accounts for close to 90% of the total acreage in Canada), which fell 25.8% from 2016 to 3.9 million acres.
NEW GROUP DEVELOPING TOOLS TO REDUCE LAKE ERIE PHOSPHORUS
Ontario Federation of Agriculture Commentary
By Mark Reusser, OFA Vice President
New work is underway to reduce phosphorus and algal blooms in the southwestern Ontario watershed and Lake Erie. The recently announced Thames River Phosphorus Reduction Collaborative is a working group of farmers and municipalities developing innovative tools, practices and technologies to reduce phosphorus entering into southwestern Ontario waterways.
Phosphorus levels in Lake Erie and surrounding waterways are an increasing concern, and agricultural practices have been identified as a potential source of phosphorus.
Excess phosphorous from U.S. and Canadian sources that runs into municipal drains can promote the growth of algal blooms in downstream water bodies, like Lake Erie. The western basin on Lake Erie has experienced several algal bloom incidents in recent years, disrupting the ecosystem, causing the closure of beaches, and resulting in a ban on city drinking water in Toledo, Ohio.
The new Thames River Phosphorus Reduction Collaborative group is focusing on creating a suite of tools and practices farmers can use to address different circumstances. The group has already gathered best practices from around the world and is looking into how they can be applied in Ontario.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is part of this new collaborative group, providing support and representing farmers to ensure the tools and practices developed are effective and make sense to implement on Ontario farms.
OFA is already working with similar groups organized across the province to evaluate agronomic practices to reduce nutrient loss. Ontario farmers are already implementing Best Management Practices, 4R Nutrient Stewardship principles, growing cover crops and timing nutrient applications to reduce phosphorus loads in watersheds.
The Great Lakes are the largest freshwater system on Earth, holding 20% of the planet’s fresh water. A new government proposed plan, The Domestic Action Plan, was developed by the federal and Ontario governments to reduce phosphorus levels in Lake Erie. The plan targets a 40% reduction in the total phosphorus entering Lake Erie and supports initiatives developed between Canada and the U.S. targeting a 40% phosphorus level reduction by 2025.
We all have a role to play in phosphorus reduction and progressive environmental stewardship. As farmers, we take our role seriously. OFA will continue working with groups like the Thames River Phosphorus Reduction Collaborative to address phosphorus entering waterways from Ontario farms, improve agricultural practices and preserve the health of our land and water.