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Canada Crop Stockpiles Shrink After Smaller Crops

Stockpiles of wheat and canola in Canada, a leading exporter, shrank slightly more than expected at Dec. 31 from a year earlier due to smaller crops, Statistics Canada said Feb. 4, underscoring tight global supplies that have pushed up food prices and sparked protests.

Stocks of all wheat in grain bins and country elevators were the smallest in three years, totalling 20.2 million tonnes at the end of 2010, down 10 per cent from a year earlier, Statistics Canada data showed.

Canada’s all-wheat production makes up only three to four per cent of the global harvest. However, it is the leading exporter of spring wheat and durum, which are used for baking and pasta respectively.

Excessive rain last year left millions of acres unplanted in Western Canada and drowned out some crops, downsizing the harvest.

Stocks of barley were 5.7 million tonnes, at the high end of the range of expectations but an eight-year low, while durum wheat stocks were down sharply to 3.7 million tonnes as expected.

StatsCan’s estimates showed that, despite high crop prices, domestic usage has not diminished, said Bruce Burnett, director of weather and market analysis for the Canadian Wheat Board.

Lower Canadian stocks added to the global tightness of food grain and feed supplies, he said, after flooding in Canada and Australia reduced milling-wheat quality and drought in the Black Sea region cut feed grain supplies.

Barley prices will have to rise to close the gap with wheat and canola and entice western Canadian farmers to plant enough acres this spring to ease tight supplies, Burnett said.

“Those barley stock levels have to cause some concerns.”

Canola stocks slipped nearly 13 per cent to 8.2 million tonnes, the tightest supplies since 2007.

Oat supplies were down 30.5 per cent to a seven-year low of 2.1

million tonnes.

Stocks estimates were within trade expectations, although at the

low end of the range of views for wheat and canola.

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