On-farm grain storage third highest in 10 years

Prairie farmers were storing an estimated 29 million tonnes 
of grain and oilseeds on their farms as of March 31

Prairie farmers had an estimated 29 million tonnes of grain and oilseeds on their farms as of March 31, according to Statistics Canada’s Stocks of Grain and Oilseeds report released May 11.

That’s slightly higher than the five-year average of 28.4 million tonnes, according to historical StatsCan data.

It’s also the third highest amount of March-ending stocks on prairie farms over the past decade.

The all-time record, according to StatsCan, occurred in 2014 when March 31 on-farm stocks were estimated at 33.967 million tonnes.

The second highest amount was reported in 2009 at 29.397 million tonnes.

In a recent interview, StatsCan told The Western Producer that the methodology used to collect 2018 grain stocks data is consistent with the methods used in previous years.

In 2018, StatsCan surveyed 11,600 farmers and asked them to estimate on-farm inventories of major grain and oilseed crops including wheat, barley, canola, grain corn, flax, lentils, oats, field peas, rye and soybeans.

The surveys took place between March 2 and March 30.

The number of survey respondents located on the Prairies was comparatively large, reflecting the fact that prairie farmers produce a relatively large proportion of Canada’s annual grain and oilseed crop, said StatsCan analyst Omar Youssouf.

All told, 8,429 of the survey’s 11,600 respondents, or 72.7 percent, were from Manitoba, Saskatchewan or Alberta.

StatsCan’s methodology does not assess whether survey respondents are being truthful when they estimate their inventories.

“We are simply outputting what respondents have reported to us,” said Youssouf.

StatsCan also produces a report that estimates total annual production of major grains and oilseeds.

The agency’s most recent report on production of principal field crops, released in November, suggests that prairie farmers produced their largest crop ever in 2013.

That year, farmers across the Prairies harvested an estimated 76 million tonnes of wheat, barley, canola, grain corn, flax, lentils, oats, field peas, rye and soybeans.

The next largest harvests occurred in 2016 (71.7 million tonnes) and 2017 (70.9 million tonnes).

A comparison of on-farm stocks and annual production volumes from the previous year suggests some interesting trends.

For example, after producing 70.9 million tonnes of grain and oilseeds in 2017, prairie farmers reported on-farm stocks of nearly 28.9 million tonnes as of March 31, 2018.

Without accounting for clearance of any stocks that may have been carried forward from the 2016-17 crop year, StatsCan’s numbers imply total new crop deliveries and use by prairie farmers of 42 million tonnes during the first eight months of the 2017-18 crop year — a year that was plagued by erratic or delayed delivery opportunities and substandard railway performance, according to many farm groups.

Comparative numbers from other years appear in the accompanying tables below.

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