This year’s late harvest has domino effect

The immature crops, rain and snow that have delayed harvest will have wide-ranging ramifications: some are obvious and some are not.

The financial hit is at the top of the obvious list. A lot of malting barley has been reduced to feed and a great deal of wheat and durum will now fall into the bottom grades.

On top of that, many producers will spend a lot more on grain drying costs than in a more normal year.

Beyond the impact on individual farms, the fall harvest woes are so extreme that the entire marketplace is affected. For the past year, feedgrain prices have been historically high compared to the rest of the grain complex. That has ended.

Large supplies of wheat and durum will now flow into the feed market, joining this year’s expanded production of feed barley, and the resulting price impact can already be seen. Lower feed costs will help support calf prices this fall, although it may be tough to differentiate that affect from all the other factors that determine bids during the fall calf run.

Meanwhile, top quality wheat and durum is suddenly in much shorter supply and that will buoy price prospects, particularly on durum where Western Canada accounts for a large share of the world export market.

Producers who held good quality durum from 2018, unwilling to sell it at bargain basement prices, will be rewarded, perhaps handsomely. Durum, which has been a dog the past couple years, will now be a more appealing option as producers make 2020 cropping plans.

Good quality seed could be in short supply on some crops.

Downgrading effects will be less for peas and lentils, since a much higher percentage of these crops were harvested ahead of the wet weather.

The delayed harvest is having an effect on grain movement and that could result in problems for the months ahead. The railroads have been filling virtually all the car orders received from shippers, but the shortage of grain ready to move in September means more to ship as the weather gets colder and railroading becomes more difficult.

Grain marketing and shipping will also be complicated by the wide array of grades.

Canola should be relatively unscathed by the wet weather. Fortunately, the first killing frosts came later than normal. However, some standing canola still had green pods when the temperatures dipped, so there could be some green-seed issues.

As producers grind through the canola harvest in October and possibly November, economics will be on the minds of many. Unless you have a very good yield, a canola price of less than $10 a bushel doesn’t generate a profit.

For 2020, more producers will consider clubroot-resistant varieties, but with that may come lower yield potential and less desirable agronomic traits.

Another crop that should emerge from the wet weather relatively unscathed is canaryseed. This minor acreage crop is one of the few showing some price strength. Prices of 30 cents a pound have been available. If too many growers jump on the canaryseed bandwagon in 2020, the crop could easily go back into an oversupply situation.

Expect the late harvest to again take a toll on winter wheat acreage.

And if weather conditions don’t smarten up, there could be a significant acreage that won’t be combined until the spring, particularly on crops such as flax.

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