Canada's spring wheat crop, while on for its best tonnage in 22 years, has mirrored its US peer in showing a drop in protein levels, stoking ideas that picky buyers may be forced to pay up for supplies.
Protein levels in number one Canada western red spring wheat are averaging 12.4-13.2% so far, according to the first data from Canadian Grain Commission analysis of the Prairies wheat harvest, which is responsible for nearly 90% of the national total.
The results, which come out best in south west Manitoba and lowest in north western Alberta, compare with final results of 13.1-14.1% last year.
And for parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan, the figures are below final crop protein figures going back for a decade.
The findings tally with market talk of a Canadian harvest showing record yields below below-par protein levels, and follow findings of a decline in protein in US spring wheat too.
The US hard red spring wheat harvest has, with 18% of samples yet to be tested, shown a protein level of 13.6%, down 1.0 point year on year, according to industry group US Wheat Associates.
That puts the crop, grown in northern states such as North Dakota and Minnesota, not much above hard red winter wheat, as produced largely in the southern and central Plains, for which the protein level rose 0.4 points year on year to 13.0%.
'On the light side'
Many traders believe that benign Canadian weather conditions, while good for spring wheat yields, did not bring a period of stress often associated with higher protein – as with the drought-tested US hard red winter wheat crop.
"Protein levels so far are definitely on the light side for Canada," Brian Henry, at Minneapolis-based broker Benson Quinn Commodities said.
The result does not meant that there will be no high protein wheat, with the commission figures representing the average of a spread, "but it does mean there will not be so much of it", he told Agrimoney.com.
The quality spread "bodes well" for Brazilian consumers, which typically require protein levels of 12-13%, but could prove an issue for Asian buyers, which typically demand 14% protein.
While carryover stocks left over from last year's North American harvests provide some cushion, the commission's findings tally with a market theme of a potential shortfall in supplies of high quality wheat, after setbacks in the likes of Brazil, China and Russia too.
"Buyers may find come spring they have to compromise on their needs, or find themselves paying more," Mr Henry said.