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Feedgrain market a bright spot amid gloom

Farmers have found a nice surprise this awful harvest: a peppier than expected Alberta feedgrain market.

“If anything good happened from the snow, it’s that the price has found something to stand on,” said Jared Seitz of grain brokerage Agfinity. “I was surprised to see feed wheat rallying right along with feed barley last week.”

Prices have rallied as buyers have become spooked by poor harvest conditions and the fact that farmers are too consumed with trying to take their crops off to make deliveries. Also, wet yards and muddy roads made deliveries difficult.

“A lot of buyers were scrambling, looking for barley and other feed grains that could load right away,” said Seitz.

“There were quite a few buyers in the same position. They were battling it out for whatever grain was being offered for quick movement.”

Prices in Brooks-Lethbridge were about $170 per tonne for barley and $185-$195 for feed wheat.

High vomitoxin wheat, with up to 10 parts per million, was selling for an about $25 per tonne discount.

Seitz said the feed market is getting a lot of downgraded wheat, but he thinks that might dry up when the elevator companies decide to hang on to the better crops they find.

“There’s lots of quality grain being just flipped aside just for having less than one percent sprouted,” said Seitz of a common Alberta problem.

“There’s lots of sprouted grain.”

He thinks much of that sprouted grain can be salvaged, as long as it is otherwise good. But for heavily sprouted grain with other problems, it’ll still end up as feed.

“If it is over one percent sprouted and has mildew damage, then that stuff is a pretty safe feed (assessment),” said Seitz.

Another problem is the high moisture content of much feed wheat. That needs to be dried before the feeders are comfortable with it, and that takes time, money and access to enough drying equipment.

Seitz said he wasn’t sure that the higher prices for feed could survive entirely if farmers start making good harvest progress.

But the bottom of the fall feed market has been hit and passed.

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