Solid barley exports support domestic prices

Strong prices through the winter are expected to help increase barley acres this spring. | File photo

Canada exported 2.6 million tonnes of the crop up to the end of March with 95 percent of that being sold to China

Canada has already exported more barley through the first two-thirds of the 2020-21 marketing year than in any full crop year in more than a decade.

That solid export pace is keeping domestic prices well supported, with an increase in seeded area in 2021-22 expected.

Export data from the Canadian Grain Commission through March shows bulk barley exports of 2.6 million tonnes in the current marketing year, with China accounting for 95 percent of the purchases. That compares with the 1.4 million tonnes exported at the same time the previous year, and would mark one of the largest total yearly barley export programs of the past 25 years even if there were no more sales through the end of July.

Prices remain historically strong, with recent strength in the United States corn market also lending support to Canadian bids despite a lack of significant imports.

With barley prices showing steady strength through the winter, the crop is expected to see an increase in seeded area this spring. Statistics Canada forecast planted area in 2021 at 8.6 million acres, which would be up by 1.1 million acres from the previous year and the largest seeded area since 2009.

Agriculture Canada is forecasting barley ending stocks for the current marketing year of only 500,000 tonnes. That would mark the tightest ending stocks in records going back to 1980, with a projected carryout of 700,000 tonnes for 2021-22 the second-tightest.

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