By Regina Leader-Post
June 28, 2012, Regina, SK - Saskatchewan farmers are planting record canola acres and increased acreage of wheat, barley and dry peas this year, but fewer acres of summer fallow, Statistics Canada reported Wednesday.
As of the first week in June, Prairie farmers had either planted, or intended to plant, a record area of canola and larger areas of wheat, dry field peas and barley, according to the federal agency's preliminary field crop report.
Producers in the Prairies reported a record area of 21 million acres seeded in canola, up by 2.4 million acres or 12.8 per cent.
This was the sixth consecutive annual record for canola area, StatsCan said.
Saskatchewan farmers reported planting 11.1 million acres of canola, exceeding the 2011 record of 9.8 million acres.
In Alberta, the canola area increased to a record high of 6.5 million acres, while Manitoba canola area was reported at a record high of 3.5 million acres, well above 2.7 million acres in 2011.
Prairie farmers reported 23.8 million acres seeded in wheat, up by 2.3 million acres or 10.9 per cent from 2011, mainly the result of higher acreage seeded in durum and hard red spring wheat.
For a second consecutive year, Prairie farmers reported an increase in durum plantings of 17.3 per cent to 4.7 million acres in 2012 from four million acres in 2011.
The area of hard red spring wheat increased 6.4 per cent to 15.1 million acres.
Saskatchewan accounted for most of this increase, with 845,000 additional acres seeded to hard red spring wheat.
Prairie farmers reported seeding 6.9 million acres of barley in 2012, compared with six million acres in 2011.
Saskatchewan farmers reported planting 2.6 million acres of barley, up by 465,000 acres, or 21.4 per cent, from 2.2 million acres in 2011.
In Alberta, 3.8 million acres of barley were reported, an increase of 300,000 acres or 8.6 per cent from 2011.
The area planted in dry field peas on the Prairies was reported at 3.5 million acres, up 50.1 per cent from 2.3 million acres in 2011.
The most significant increases were in Saskatchewan, where dry field pea area was up 61.7 per cent to 2.5 million acres, and in Alberta, where it increased 24.2 per cent to 925,000 acres.
Overall, the area seeded to field crops in 2012 returned to levels seen prior to the 2011 floods in parts of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, as farmers in these two provinces reported significantly fewer summer fallow acres this year.