Canadian officials signalled that downgrades to their crop estimates may lie ahead as they acknowledged the setback to harvests from “cold wet conditions which have prevailed on the Prairies”.
AAFC, the country’s farm ministry, in a monthly briefing made only marginal changes to its forecasts for Canadian crop supply and demand in 2019-20, with revisions including small revisions to estimates for durum and wheat stocks.
However, it said this was down to a lack of fresh data from Statistics Canada since August data on area, and mid-September statistics on yield, rather than ideas that crop prospects have remained undiminished by persistent rains and, most recently, snowfalls.
“The forecasts in the current report do not account for the cold wet conditions which have prevailed on the Prairies since September and heavy snow in early-October,” AAFC said.
“Weather related issues have had a negative impact on crop quality in both western and eastern Canada.”
Latest data for Saskatchewan, Canada’s top grain-growing province, show spring wheat harvest, for instance, at 66% complete as of Monday last week, the slowest on readily available data going back to 2012.
Often the Saskatchewan spring wheat harvest is finished by now.
Similarly for durum, a 68% figure was the lowest in at least eight years, as well as for canola, of which 58% of the province’s crop was in the barn as of a week ago.
And this followed an improvement in conditions for fieldwork, following the early-month snows, with Saskatchewan officials reporting that “relatively warm and dry weather allowed for some producers to return to the field”.
However, they also noted that “reports continue of significant downgrading at the elevator due to crops sprouting,” adding that “the majority of the crop coming off is tough or damp and is being placed into aeration bins and grain driers”.
‘More used for feed’
Among revisions AAFC did make included a trim of 100,000 tonnes, to a five-year low of 1.00m tonnes, in the forecast for durum stocks as of the close of 2019-20, which in Canada ends in July for many grains.
“More durum is expected to be used for feed,” the ministry said, nudging higher by Can$5 a tonne to Can$240-270 a tonne its forecast for this season’s average domestic prices, as measured by Saskatchewan farmgate values.
Last season, growers received an average of Can$235 a tonne.
The ministry also nudged higher by Can$5 a tonne to Can$445-485 a tonne its forecast for average Vancouver canola values this season, although this would still remain below the Can$497 a tonne recorded in 2018-19.
The ministry flagged “pressure” on values “from lower world vegetable oil and protein meals prices”, while noting too the dent to export prospects from “weak Chinese demand for Canadian canola as the two countries remain locked in a trade dispute”, with China’s hog herd shrinkage cutting demand too.
However, “some additional support for Canadian exports is being provided by the shortfall in the European and Australian canola-rapeseed crops due to below-normal yields as a result of hotter- and drier-than-normal growing conditions”.