CROP PROGRESS UPDATE – August 23, 2018
Harvest is advancing quickly, especially in the southern regions of the Prairies. Combines are also rolling across the central and northern regions of the Western provinces. Conditions are near ideal for harvest with the recent hot and dry weather. Crops are drying quickly which will give the farmers uninterrupted access to harvest their crops. Barley harvest should be completed by the first weekend of September.
The long-lasting dryness that lingered over the Prairies through the growing season will and has severely reduced yields. The early barley yields have been below expectations due to the dry and overly hot weather. To date, the majority of the regions have indicated that their yields are 10% to 50% below average. The 50% reduction has occurred in southern Alberta, which suffered through extreme heat stress and minimal rain. There were expectations, in mid summer, that the Prairies could have above average yields, however those thoughts have been forgotten as the early harvested barley fields are yielding below average crops. Also, the prospects for the later harvested fields to yield above average yields are not optimistic. Only a few areas, such as around Tisdale, have produced average yields.
In last month's supply demand update from Agricultural Canada, there were projections of of 8.5 million MT barley crop, up 600,000 MT from last year, due to higher seeded acres. With a combination of variable weather and rainfall, it remains to be seen where Statistics Canada pegs actual barley output in its first crop production report, due at the end of this month. Conditions were quite variable across all regions over the summer so final yields and production estimates are uncertain at this time. The thought is that the crop size will be closer to 8 million MT, which will tighten the domestic barley supplies, meaning cattle feeders will have to supplement with corn, brought in from either the U.S. or Manitoba. The smaller barley crops globally should enable Canadian barley exports to surpass the two million tonne mark this marketing year.
Feed barley for September through December delivery in Lethbridge is currently priced at around C$250 to $255MT, and some offers have been as high as $260/tonne for December. In comparison, corn delivered to Lethbridge for October through December is currently sitting around C$252 to $254/tonne, with January to March delivery at $262 to $264. This year the wheat and durum crops will be of high quality, similar to last year. Therefore there will be little wheat or durum entering the feed market. U.S. corn and dried distillers grains (DDGs) will have to enter the feed market to fill the void created by the tight barley crop.
Canada isn’t the only country where barley production has suffered. Output is also expected to be down in other major exporting countries including Australia, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union. This reduced world barley production and strong global demand for both malt barley and feed barley have moved the prices for Canadian barley up by $20US/MT in the last few weeks.