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Farmers to plant more soybeans this year, but less wheat and barley: StatsCan

OTTAWA - A Statistics Canada survey of seeding intentions for the upcoming growing season shows soybeans continue to be the crop of choice for many producers.

It also says farmers are cutting back on how much wheat, corn for grain and barley they plant.

The survey between March 24 and March 31 asked 11,500 farmers what grain, oilseeds and specialty crops they plan to sow this season.

Doug Chorney, president of Keystone Agriculture Producers in Manitoba, isn't surprised at the results.

He says prices for wheat, corn and barley have dropped, so it's natural producers would plant less of those crops.

But the market for soybeans has been fairly strong and farmers have been getting good prices.

“People are gravitating towards the crops that give them the best potential returns,” Chorney said Thursday.

The survey says land planted with soybeans could reach another record in 2014, which would mark the sixth consecutive year of historic highs. Canadian farmers reported that they expect to seed 5.3 million acres — an increase of 16.5 per cent from 2013.

The biggest drop from last year is expected with barley. Seeding is expected to decline 10.9 per cent to 6.3 million acres.

Spring planting could be delayed in several areas. The Statistics Canada report points out that many regions of the country had a longer winter than anticipated.

Manitoba experienced a particularly harsh cold season.

"We are definitely not going to be early anywhere in Manitoba with field operations this spring. That’s a concern when ... the sooner the better is typically the rule of thumb," Chorney said.

"We’re still in the northeastern part of the province dealing with a lot of snow cover and that’s going to delay seeding operations by the next three weeks for sure."

In Saskatchewan, farmers in some parts of the province are facing wet conditions. Leonard Blocka, who grows wheat, barley, canola and oats on his farm outside Prince Albert, said he usually gets into his fields at the beginning of May.

"But I think this year, with what is predicted, we may be pushed back.”

A regional crop specialist with the Saskatchewan Agriculture Ministry said it will be at least two or three weeks before farmers can start seeding. “We’re certainly not where we normally are,” said Shannon Friesen.

Snow has also lingered in parts of Alberta and there was heavy rain this week.

— With files from CJOB and CKBI

The Canadian Press

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