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Report on Business Canadian canola harvest projected to be smallest in four years amid trade disputes

Western Canadian canola fields are seen in full bloom ahead of the harvest in rural Alberta on July 23, 2019.

TODD KOROL/Reuters

Canadian canola production is expected to fall 4.8 per cent to 19.4 million tonnes in 2019 despite higher yields, Statistics Canada said on Thursday in a survey based in part on satellite and agroclimatic data, making it the smallest harvested canola crop anticipated in four years.

Canola yields are expected to jump 3.8 per cent to 41.3 bushels an acre, while harvested area was set to fall 8.3 per cent, Statscan said.

Using the same model, the agency said total wheat production is expected to increase 0.9 per cent from last year, totalling 32.5 million tonnes on higher yields. Harvested area is expected to fall by 1.1 per cent.

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That figure includes a sharp decline in durum production, the wheat used to make pasta, which is expected to drop 13 per cent from 2018 to 5.0 million tonnes. Meanwhile, Canadian spring wheat – the country’s biggest crop – is expected to see output rise 7.6 per cent to 25.8 million tonnes.

Thursday’s production report comes as Canadian farmers grapple with a series of trade disputes – including an ongoing diplomatic spat with China. Beijing blocked Canadian canola seed exports this spring after authorities in Vancouver arrested a Huawei executive in December. China also arrested two Canadians, whom Beijing has accused of being spies.

Last month, Statistics Canada reported in its first production forecast, based on farmer surveys, that Canadian canola output looked set to reach 18.5 million tonnes, down 9 per cent year over year, the smallest canola crop seen in four years.

That same report also saw Canada’s all-wheat numbers fall, dropping 2.9 per cent to 31.3 million tonnes, because of a smaller harvested area. Canada’s durum output was pegged at 4.4 million tonnes, the smallest since 2011. Spring wheat harvest was estimated at 25.1 million, the largest in six years.

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