Healthy exports, dry conditions offset harvest pricing pressure on Prairie feed grains

Farmers’ urgency to sell off the combine is pressuring Western Canadian feed grain prices, but the weight is not as heavy as usual.

“It feels like we’re seeing all producers wanting movement right away here, and that’s kind of putting some downward pressure on the price,” said Nelson Neumann, a junior trader at Agfinity at Stony Plain, Alta.

He said a lot of feed grains are currently available and that means many buyers will not accept counter bids because they know they can source grain elsewhere.

However, not everything is working against higher prices. A couple of factors are coming into play to offset the harvest drag.

“We are seeing some downward harvest pressure on new crop barley pricing, but it is still pretty strong for the time of year due in part to drier conditions and in part due to strong export markets,” Neumann said.

This week, feed barley prices have fallen by C$2.50 per tonne, he said.

Neumann deals mostly in the Highway 2 corridor around Red Deer and south into the so-called feedlot alley area around Lethbridge. In the Red Deer area, he said peas and many other crops are off and delivered already.

Farmers living in central regions seem to be doing OK, he said having received a decent amount of rain.

“In the south, I would say the sentiment is, we could have used it (rain) a while ago. If it’s coming now, it’s not really that welcome. It’s just getting in the way.”

Some feedlots in the south are starting to explore other feed options, with an eye on the huge mountain of corn in the United States.

In the last U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) supply report issued Aug. 10, corn production was forecast at 14.6 billion bushels. If weather holds, the USDA predicts a record yield of 178.4 bushels per acre. However, some crop tours since then are reporting lower-than-projected yields. The USDA projected ending stocks at 1.7 billion bushels.

Neumann said all that corn has provided another feed possibility for Lethbridge area feedlots.

“So they have some coverage there and the pricing is priced to compete with the export market,” he said.

Last week, U.S. corn was landing at Lethbridge for C$250 per tonne, he said.

A random sampling of bids from Agfinity’s website, shows new crop feed barley FOB Two Hills, Alta., being offered for sale at C$218-C$220 per tonne. In Big Valley, Alta., it sold for C$228 per tonne.

At Central Butte, Sask., new crop feed barley traded for C$214 per tonne, and off-spec feed barley was being offered in Benito, Man., for C$181 per tonne.

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