Improving crop conditions have weighed on western Canadian feed barley prices over the past month as attention turns from the tight old-crop supply situation to the upcoming harvest.
“Prices are dropping every day it rains,” Mike Fleischhauer of Eagle Commodities in Lethbridge, Alta. said last week. He said barley prices have come off by as much as $35 per tonne over the past month.
“A month ago, there wasn’t much for rain and crops were looking like they would dry up,” said Fleischhauer. Farmers were also reluctant sellers given the uncertain production prospects. While the weather situation has shifted and there are now pockets of too much rain, he said crops were now thought to be doing reasonably well for the most part.
The harvest is only a few weeks away for the earliest-planted fields.
“All of our customers in the feedlot alley are all thinking the same thing — that ‘prices will go down’,” said Fleischhauer. As a result, they are out of the market or bidding low, while farmers are still looking for higher prices.
Timing could be an issue in the northern growing areas, with the slower-than-normal development leaving fields susceptible to frost damage before harvest.
While there is plenty of time for things to change, if the weather co-operates over the next few weeks “there will be quite a bit of feed around,” said Fleischhauer.
Feed barley is currently priced at around $277 per tonne in southern Alberta, while feed wheat is at $261, according to PDQ data.