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Canada, World To Grow Less Wheat

Canadian farmers will produce nine per cent less wheat this year as big global supplies and lower prices cause the world’s top exporter of spring wheat and durum to look to other crops, the Canadian Wheat Board said Feb. 22.

Canada will reap a crop of 24 million tonnes of all wheat in 2010 compared with 26.515 million tonnes last year, the wheat board said, affirming its previous Canadian wheat forecast of Jan. 15. That would be its smallest harvest in three years, but in line with the 10-year average.

Global wheat production is forecast to fall 3.7 per cent to 651 million tonnes in 2010, but the estimate is up seven million tonnes or one per cent from the wheat board’s last estimate on Jan. 15.

“With the second-biggest (global) wheat crop in history (last year) and fair-to-say lukewarm demand, what it means is (fundamentals are) getting heavy again,” David Boyes, the CWB’s manager of commodity risk, said at the wheat board’s annual Grain World conference in Winnipeg.

The wheat board is one of the world’s biggest grain marketers and has a government-granted monopoly to sell Western Canada’s wheat and malting barley.

The wheat board is far from alone in predicting a smaller world wheat crop. Farmers in the United States and Australia – other major wheat-exporting countries – are also expected to plant less wheat this year.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Monday that world wheat output could fall by five per cent in 2010 after two bumper crop years, while the International Grains Council (IGC) last month forecast world wheat production to fall about three per cent to 653 million tonnes.

Wheat futures at the Chicago Board of Trade have fallen to $5 a bushel from a record high above $13 in February 2008.

Canada’s production of durum, used in making pasta, will fall to its lowest level in four years amid big global supplies and as major importers in North Africa produce large crops, the CWB said.

The wheat board estimated Canada’s 2010 durum production at 3.8 million tonnes, down nearly 30 per cent from 5.4 million last year. It said global production is likely to fall 8.5 per cent to 34.2 million tonnes.

The wheat board did not estimate plantings, but Boyes said there would likely be smaller acreage of both spring wheat and durum this spring.

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