The Canadian Grain Commission has released figures that shed new light on the pace of Canada’s agricultural exports in the first half of the 2017-18 crop year.
Not surprisingly, the figures show a drastic reduction in exports of Canadian field peas and lentils.
However, the pace of wheat and canola shipments — Western Canada’s two largest crops — was above last year’s pace through the first six months of the shipping season.
Exports of Canadian peas were down by nearly a million tonnes between Aug. 1, 2017, and Jan. 31, 2018, compared to the same period last year.
Total pea exports during the first six months of 2017-18 were listed at 1.037 million tonnes, down 49 percent from 2.022 million tonnes last year.
Year-to-date lentil exports were down almost 78 percent at 130,000 tonnes as of Jan. 31, compared to 578,000 tonnes a year earlier.
— Grain Commission (@Grain_Canada) March 6, 2018
Lentil exports to India as of Jan. 31 were listed at a meager 57,000 tonnes, compared to 312,000 tonnes last year.
Lentil exports to Turkey were also down sharply at 38,000 tonnes compared to 127,000 last year.
Sales to Bangladesh were listed at zero compared to 86,000 tonnes in 2016-17.
All grains and oilseeds
Despite what some industry observers are describing as a shipping disaster on par with the industry-wide grain backlog of 2013-14 , total exports of all Canadian grains and oilseeds as of Jan. 31 were slightly ahead last year’s record pace, Statistics Canada figures showed.
Canadian exporters shipped approximately 21.78 million tonnes of grain and oilseeds during the first half of the 2017-18 crop year, including 7.97 million tonnes of wheat, 1.92 million tonnes of durum, 5.52 million tonnes of canola and 2.9 million tonnes of soybeans.
During the same six-month period in 2016-17, total exports were listed at 21.68 million tonnes, including 6.67 million tonnes of wheat, 2.02 million tonnes of durum, 5.45 million tonnes of canola and 3.21 million tonnes of soybeans.
It is widely expected that Statistics Canada’s next monthly export summary will reflect a slowdown in shipping performance that affected rail network fluidity throughout much of February.
Based on poor February performance, grain industry observers have said that they expect grain export programs to fall behind last year’s pace due because of extremely cold winter weather in February and severe delays affecting hopper car placements, particularly on Canadian National Railway’s northern main line, which provides service to export terminals at Prince Rupert, B.C.
As of late February, total grain exports at Prince Rupert were 15 percent below last year’s pace and 13 percent below the five-year average, according to Canada’s Grain Monitoring Program.