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Lower prices may mean fewer Man. corn acres

Farmers in Manitoba may plant fewer acres of corn this spring than anticipated a few weeks ago due to weaker prices.

Eldon Dueck, a grain merchant with Linear Grain at Carman, Man., said Manitoba farmers were receiving about $6.70 per bushel for their corn as of Tuesday.

"The market has really dropped," he said. "We paid farmers $7 per bushel not that long ago and now we're back down to $6.70, which is the lowest we've seen for quite some time."

Dueck noted new-crop prices have also fallen. Both old- and new-crop values in Manitoba have moved lower as they followed the futures market in the U.S.

The U.S. corn futures market has fallen in recent weeks mostly due to weak demand from the export and ethanol sectors, analysts said.

As long as prices continue to be on the weaker side, farmers should plant fewer acres of corn in Manitoba than originally anticipated. Dueck said those corn acres could be replaced by soybeans or wheat.

But if prices climb to higher levels before planting time, farmers could decide to put more corn in the ground. Dueck said if there's another drought in the U.S. and Canada, prices could surge again.

"As we get closer to planting, if the ground is staying dry, that could bring prices back up," he said.

Prices are still strong enough to entice Manitoba farmers to plant more acres of corn this spring than they did in 2012.

"Corn prices are still attractive enough and many producers believe they're going to see stronger corn prices than they are at right now," said Dueck.

According to Statistics Canada, 300,000 acres of corn were planted in Manitoba in 2012.

-- Terryn Shiells writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.



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