Canada sees robust grain exports

The crop year ended July 31.


What a year it was, with a crop that shattered all previous records but a transportation system incapable of meeting the un-precedented demand for rail car movement.


Global grain prices were still pretty good, but on-farm prices crashed as basis levels widened because of the excess supply competing for limited rail pipeline to the ports.


However, grain movement this spring and summer has been impressive following the setbacks of the winter, when unusual cold stymied railway performance.


For example, the improved rail service allowed producers to deliver far more grain than normal this spring. Producer deliveries in May were a record 3.49 million tonnes and June was another record at 4.59 million tonnes.


Combined May and June deliveries were two million tonnes more than the previous five year average for the two months, which was a 33 percent increase.


For canola, this improved movement and robust exports and domestic crush are narrowing the basis so that it is now positive in many locations. But alas, that positive basis is now associated with a much lower futures price, reflecting a global oilseed market weakened by the expectation of a record breaking American soybean crop.


Still, it is important to keep moving grain to drive down stock levels.


The improved grain movement has Agriculture Canada trimming its forecast for year end stocks. In April, it expected year end stocks of all principal field crops to total 23.3 million tonnes. By July, it had reduced its forecast by more than seven percent to 21.6 million tonnes.


The reduction in the estimate for 2014-15 year end stocks was even greater. In April it was 20.7 million, but by July it had dropped 38 percent to 13.1 million.


Anecdotal reports are that farmers in areas benefiting the most from the surge in rail movement are almost out of 2013 grain, although other areas, like the Peace River region, still have substantial stocks.


Still, I would not be surprised if the Statistics Canada July 31 stocks report, due in early September, will show that the grain supply at the end of the crop year was even smaller than what Agriculture Canada now predicts.


The export market wanted Canadian grain.


Canadian Grain Commission figures covering 11 months of the crop year to the end of June show total exports were up 14 percent over the previous year.


Where was all the grain going?


Statistics Canada figures trail by a month but are more complete than grain commission statistics.


They show total wheat (other than durum) exports in the crop year to the end of May were 14.65 million tonnes, up 16 percent.


The United States was the biggest wheat importer with buyers to the end of May importing 2.7 million tonnes, up 36 percent from the same point the previous year.


Good old steady Japan was the No. 2 wheat importer as it usually is, with 1.22 million tonnes, down five percent from the previous year.


Indonesia was in third place at 1.06 million tonnes, about steady with last year. 


Three Latin American countries moved strongly up the ladder.


Mexico imported 991,000 tonnes in the 10 months, up 42 percent from the previous year. Peru, at 831,448 tonnes, soared 84 percent, and Colombia, at 744,600 tonnes, rose 58 percent.


In canola, overall exports to the end of May were 7.44 million tonnes, up 12 percent. The biggest importer to the end of May was China with 3.3 million tonnes, up 27 percent over last year at the same point.


That helped offset declines in Japan, which fell 13 percent to 1.77 million tonnes, and Mexico, which fell 17 percent to 1.05 million tonnes as of the end of May.

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