‘Mini-harvest’ likely to weigh on feed grains

CNS Canada –– Seasonal lows in the Western Canadian feed grain market may stick around longer than normal this year, as the industry awaits the abnormal spring harvest of those fields left to overwinter this year.

“The seasonals are fairly consistent,” said Jim Beusekom of Market Place Commodities in Lethbridge, adding “we usually see the lows of the market from the middle of January through early March.”

He placed barley prices in the key Lethbridge cattle feeding area at about $153-$158 per tonne, while feed wheat was in the $145-$155 range, depending on the vomitoxin content. Feed wheat without vomitoxin was priced at up to $170.

End users are well covered and able to buy as needed, with “nothing on the radar to suggest prices would move much higher.”

While Beusekom said prices were probably near their lows, “one thing that’s different this year is that there’s a mini-harvest coming up in 30 to 60 days.”

Adverse harvest weather in the fall resulted in about five per cent of fields being left to overwinter. When those crops are eventually harvested in the spring, “there’s enough volume there that could keep the spring and summer market fairly full,” said Beusekom.

Most of the overwintered grain will likely grade as feed, he added.

“Just when the market tends to see a price rally, this year we’ll see all of the spring-thrashed grain come at us,” said Beusekom, adding, “it’s a bit of a unique situation.”

— Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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