Producers watching skies for signs of what to do with feed grains

WINNIPEG — Farmers and traders are keeping a watchful eye on the weather trying to sort out feed grain supplies.

“This time of year, it’s a weather market and weather has been improving in much of Saskatchewan and in some of the more critically dry areas. They got a decent amount of moisture over the weekend,” said Allen Pirness, senior trader at Market Place Commodities Ltd. in Lethbridge.

According to data from Environment Canada, areas of Saskatchewan south of the Trans-Canada Highway are receiving about average rainfall. Those regions were particularly parched last summer.

Since April 1, Estevan in the southeast has received 184 millimetres, Broadview has seen 187 mm, Regina 111 mm and Maple Creek in the southwest has had 130 mm.

In southern Alberta, Calgary has had 104 mm of precipitation since April 1, Lethbridge 95 mm and Medicine Hat remains dry with 51 mm since April 1. South of Lethbridge where feedlot alley draws large feed supplies, Pincher Creek received 17 mm of rain last week, 147 mm since April 1, which is 75 per cent of normal, and Milk River near the Canada/U.S. border has reported 13.5 mm last week for an accumulation of 120 mm since April 1, which is about 75 per cent of normal.

Pirness said recent rains sparked some farmers into action and Market Place saw feed grains sales coming out of dry areas. That is a sign of farmer optimism, he said, as farmers begin to clear out bins to make room for new crop.

“They’re selling the old crop now instead of holding it over.”

He said the market continues to watch the international trade situation for signs of how U.S. trade protectionism measures will shake out. Many analysts think China is maybe looking for new soybean suppliers and will leave U.S. growers looking for new buyers.

“There is a path to draw that we could see Canadian soybeans getting exported, more of them, and there might be some U.S. soybeans coming up here to Canada for domestic crush. That’s kind of a strange scenario.”

He said trade wars have a way of disrupting normal trade routes that make logistical sense.

He added that South Korea’s decision to resume imports of Canadian wheat following the discovery of an unauthorized genetically modified wheat two weeks ago, demonstrated the industry is getting the problem under control.

Japan’s ban on Canadian wheat imports continues.

Pirness said people wondered if more Canadian wheat would be forced into feed markets with the bans in place, but he said that now appears unlikely.

Feed barley prices near Lethbridge were at C$240 per tonne, he said.

Bids at Agfinity.com show new crop feed barley FOB Hairy Hills, Alta., being offered at C$209.19 per tonne; CW HRS wheat in St. Paul, Alta., offered at C$230.31 per tonne; and CW feed barley delivered to Lethbridge offered at C$250.52 per tonne.

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