Canada Wheat, Barley Stocks Smaller Than Expected

Canadian year-end stocks of all wheat, barley, canola and oats were smaller than they were the previous year due to farmers harvesting smaller crops, Statistics Canada said Feb. 5.

Stocks of all wheat in grain bins and country elevators totalled 21.685 million tonnes on Dec. 31, which was 1.5 per cent less than a year earlier. Barley stocks shrunk 11.1 per cent to 7.553 million tonnes.

StatsCan’s estimates were mostly surprising to traders and analysts, who had expected stocks of wheat and barley to grow because of large world supplies.

The small size of barley stocks was especially unexpected, 12 per cent, or one million tonnes, less than traders’ average estimate in a Reuters poll ahead of the report. StatsCan’s figure was just below the trade’s range of estimates.

Farmers may have fed more barley to livestock than expected because the wheat harvest was of high quality, leaving less feed wheat, said Bruce Burnett, the Canadian Wheat Board’s director of weather and market analysis.

The report may support cash barley prices but will have no effect on the well-supplied world market, Burnett said.

All-wheat stocks were one million tonnes, or 4.5 per cent, lighter than the average estimate. Durum stocks were 16.5 per cent bigger at 5.582 million tonnes than the previous year, due to large global supplies.

Wheat and durum stocks were in line with expectations of the wheat board, Burnett said.

Canadian farmers harvested bigger-than-average crops of wheat, durum and canola last autumn, despite volatile weather, but some crops were smaller than the previous year’s bountiful harvest.

“There was a lot of uncertainty going into this (report), given the extraordinarily late harvest,” said Ken Ball, futures and options broker at Union Securities in Winnipeg.

StatsCan reported lower stocks of canola (8.762 million tonnes) and oats (2.838 million tonnes), in line with average trade expectations.

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