Australia, Canada lift hopes for rapeseed supplies

Prospects for the world's squeezed rapeseed supplies improved with an upgrade to Australia's canola harvest, and a finding of record oil yields in Canada's crop.

The Australian Oilseeds Federation lifted by 80,000 tonnes to 2.54m tonnes its forecast for the Australian harvest of canola, the rapeseed variant, citing the "good falls of rain" last month which haveraised expectations for the grains harvest too.

A harvest at that level would trounce the current record, of 1.5m tonnes, set 12 years ago, besides beating the 2.29m tonnes forecast for this year by Abares, the country's official commodities bureau.

Initial harvesting in Western Australia, where harvest began some 10 days ago, showed yields in the top producing state on course to average 1.3 tonnes per hectare, up from 0.8 tonnes per hectare last year, when crops were held back by drought.

Some growers had reported yields of 1.8 tonnes per hectare.

Oil yields rise

The federation noted promising crop quality too, with crop's oil content averaging "in the mid-40%, and up to 47% in some cases".

In the UK, one of the European Union's top producers, the average yield is some 42-43%, according to the Home Grown Cereals Authority.

The comments echoed a finding of a bumper oil yield, up 0.8 points year on year, in the canola crop in Canada, the top exporter of both the oilseed and the oil.

"The oil content of canola is a record 45.1%, based on preliminary results," the Canadian farm ministry, AAFC, said, even as it cut by 265,000 tonnes, to 12.9m tonnes, its forecast for the canola harvest.

The downgrade reflected the results two weeks ago of a Statistics Canada survey of farmers which showed that the harvest, while still a record, had fallen short of expectations. Some analysts had pencilled in a 14.2m-tonne result.

Price impact

Indeed, ideas of a  squeeze in supplies of rapeseed/canola and its oil, which the EU in particular covets as a biodiesel feedstock, have helped keep European prices firm, even amid the September sell-off in most agricultural commodities.

Paris rapeseed for November closed at E437.75 a tonne, down 0.1% on the day, but level with late-August levels. Paris wheat has fallen more than 10% since then.

The world faces a 1.66m-tonne deficit in production of the oilseed in 2011-12, and a marginal shortfall in rapeseed oil output, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

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