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Malt barley exports seen holding steady

(Resource News International) — Canada’s malt barley export program
during the 2008-09 season will be little changed from 2007-08 despite expectations of a larger crop, according to industry sources. Scattered frosts and untimely
rains during the growing season were believed to have caused less
of the crop to grade as malt.

“Normally 20 per cent of Western Canada’s barley crop will grade as
malt,” said Mike Jubinville, an analyst with the farmer advisory
service ProFarmer Canada in Winnipeg. “However, how much will actually

be accepted as malt by end-users or the Canadian Wheat Board for
its export program, is very much an unknown factor at this time.”

Bruce Burnett, director of the weather and crop surveillance
department for the Canadian Wheat Board, said the selection rates
this year were going to suffer a bit because of weather problems
experienced by barley during the growing season.

“Barley particularly suffered from the heavy rains that came
through some key growing regions a week and a half ago,” Burnett
said. The rains were expected to have caused sprouting, bleaching
and splitting damage to the barley.

“The later-harvested barley is not expected to produce a
large amount of product suitable for the malting industry,”
Burnett predicted.

However, because producers were able to get a fair amount of
barley off early, there was still likely to be enough malting-quality barley available in order to match last year’s sales
program, Burnett said.

Chris Beckman, the coarse grains analyst with the market

analysis division of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Winnipeg, estimated in last Wednesday’s supply/demand report that total Canadian barley
exports during 2008-09 would be 2.3 million tonnes, which
compares with the 2007-08 level of 3.892 million.

The majority of the 2.3 million-tonne 2008-09 barley export
program was expected to consist of malting barley and malt
products, Beckman said. An estimated 200,000 to 300,000 tonnes were
likely to be made up of feed-quality barley.

Dependent on weather

During 2007-08, an estimated 1.5 million tonnes of feed barley
were exported by Canada, with the remainder generally consisting
of malting barley and malt products.

Burnett said the CWB’s 2008-09 malting barley export program
could still climb, but will be dependent on weather in Canada
during the remainder of the harvest, as well as on how bad growing
conditions are in other major barley-producing countries such as
Australia.

“If there are problems with the Australian barley crop,
buyers could ease some of the malting restrictions on Canadian
barley in order to keep up a supply base,” Burnett said, noting

that each country’s maltsters have different grading systems.

Burnett also felt that with the problems the U.S. has had with
its barley crop, particularly the dryness in the western regions,
there should be some increased demand for Canadian barley from
those areas.

“Western Canada has also been pretty lucky in terms of there
not being any killing frosts yet, despite the fact we are already
past the middle of September,” Burnett said. “That could help
producers get some additional quantities of malting barley off
still.”

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