Statistics Canada has released its new seeding intentions report for May 2023, as the seeding season is set to start for farmers.

The info presented includes how much of any one crop will be planted this year, comparing that to previous years.

One topic of conversation that's come from the new numbers is how they were collected, as the survey for this report was done in late December to early January, rather than the usual March timeframe.

That's got some wondering how useful those numbers are, given the market and farmers' decisions can often change during that time period.

Leftfield Commodity Research Vice President Jon Driedger says that's the question on many of the industry minds.

"I guess the question that is being pondered on by the trade and in the industry, in general, is just how much does that lag, you know, potentially impact what the actual number is? So that's in some ways maybe almost as much as I've highlighted the numbers themselves this time around." 

The gap between the survey and the report introduces a lag which means those reports become questionable.

"The longer away you are from seeding when you ask the question, the greater the chance of farmers making some changes in terms of what actually goes in the ground.  I think in a perfect world the question would be asked closer to seeding," said Driedger, "Again understanding a little bit about where they're coming from and the intention is not a bad one in terms of what they're trying to achieve, it's just in this case, I think it hurts the quality of the numbers that came out." 

One important factor for the timing will also be crop insurance numbers.

"The other part too is, I think for most provinces, farmers won't have received all the details of the crop insurance coverage," said Driedger, "How much does that impact acres, you don't want to overstate it, but at the end of the day, does that maybe shift some decisions around the margins? That's possible as well. So I think in some ways, I wonder if directionally, I think most acres may not look that different, but you just wonder what the final numbers will be and if we might not see some bigger changes than usual when you look at the difference between the April and then upcoming June report."

The effort behind having an early survey was to keep farmers from being swamped in phone calls, which Driedger says he can appreciate. 

"I think the motivation and the intent are to try and not phone farmers more often than they need to. I don't think they want to pester farmers more often than they need to as they do these surveys. So I think that motivation and that intention is in and of itself, not a bad thing."