An excessively wet spring is creating significant problems for the Canadian Prairie Provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The immediate issue is how many crop acres have been planted versus how many acres will go unplanted.

The Canadian Wheat Board estimates that between 8.25 million and 12.5 Million acres of Prairie cropland will not be planted this year. Most of the unplanted acres are in the province of Saskatchewan. In 2009, this region planted approximately 60.9 million crop acres.

This is important to North Dakota farmers because these three provinces account for approximately 88% of Canada's oat acres, 94% of the barley, 97% of the flax, 98% of the spring wheat, 99% of the canola and all of the Canadian durum, dry pea and lentil acres.

On June 23, Statistics Canada released a survey-based estimate of 2010 planting intentions. The survey polled 25,500 farmers and was conducted between May 25 and June 3. Unfortunately, this survey does not reflect shifting crop acres or prevented-planted acres from the continued rains that occurred after the survey was conducted. As a result, both futures and cash market traders will struggle to estimate the magnitude and implications of the extremely wet conditions.

Prices for oats, flax, canola, dry peas, and lentils likely will be volatile throughout the growing season. However, prices for spring wheat, durum and malt barley may not be as sensitive to the changing estimates for Canadian production.

Planted acreage is only the first key unknown. Some of the acres that were planted will be drowned out or abandoned, which will reduce the final harvested acres. Crop reports indicate a wide range in crop conditions and development.

Some areas have been severely damaged, while others are doing well. There is

a concern that continued rain and wet soil conditions will increase the chances for disease problems. The growing-season weather always influences crop prices by creating uncertainty about yields. Prices also become more sensitive to weather conditions when the acres planted are low, carryover stocks are not generous or the crop is under stress.

Spring wheat prices already have responded to the Canadian planting problems.

Lower world wheat production estimates by both private forecasters and the U.S.

Department of Agriculture have helped prices within the entire wheat complex recover since the first week in June.

However, hard red spring wheat futures prices have increased more rapidly than hard red winter or soft red winter wheat futures prices. September Minneapolis

Grain Exchange spring wheat prices are trading at an approximate 70 cents per bushel premium to Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) soft red winter wheat and 40 cents per bushel premium to Kansas City Board of Trade (KBOT) hard red winter wheat. This compares with an approximate 25 cents per bushel premium to  CBOT wheat and a 20 cent per bushel premium to KBOT wheat in early May.

Additional spring wheat price improvement is possible if the Canadian crop continues to decline or if the U.S. spring wheat crop encounters major production problems. However, very large 2009 spring wheat carryover stocks, aggressive international competition and price-sensitive wheat buyers will make significant price rallies hard to sustain. In other words, the window of opportunity for pricing spring wheat likely will open and close quickly.

NDSU Agriculture Communication

:Source: Frayne Olson, (701) 231-7377,

:Editor: Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136,