Lethbridge feed wheat stays steady, barley moves downward

CNS Canada –– Feed barley prices have come down while wheat holds steady in Lethbridge, Alta., the centre of Western Canada’s livestock feeding sector.

The price of feed barley at Lethbridge fell about $10 a tonne throughout November to sit at about $210-$212 per tonne — for three main reasons, according to Jim Beusekom of Market Place Commodities.

“One is the very mild weather in Lethbridge, so feed consumption is steady, but nothing dramatic.”

Mild weather also makes grain movement easier, further pressuring barley prices, he said.

“The feed grains that have been purchased, they’re coming in on time, there’s been no disruptions, everything is flowing along fine — about as good as it can be.”

The third reason for the depreciation is increased farmer selling. Some producers, Beusekom said, are still holding back and hoping for higher prices, but even still there was an uptick in selling, especially around mid-November.

Though feed barley in Lethbridge has been etching lower, wheat prices have stayed steady throughout November.

Producers are still sorting through their wheat and determining what will be used for milling and what will be used as feed, Beusekom said.

Buyers are trying to get wheat into the market, which is reflected in slightly stronger bids.

“It’s a fairly steady market throughout Alberta; buyers are — I wouldn’t say they’re aggressively looking for wheat, but they’re still in the market looking to buy some wheat.”

But there’s a lid on feed wheat prices, despite increased demand. “We’re not seeing usage increase in feed wheat necessarily,” Beusekom said.

He pegged Lethbridge feed wheat prices at about $220-$225 per tonne.

Looking to 2016, Beusekom said Lethbridge feed grains have more downside risk than upside potential, especially as farmer selling will likely increase moving into a new tax year.

“I would think you’ll see a downturn in prices by February next year. If you’re a farmer, make sure you’re proactive with your selling.”

Jade Markus writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. Follow her at @jade_markus on Twitter.

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