CWB Raises Wheat Export Target Again

The Canadian Wheat Board on Jan. 4 raised its 2010-11 grain export target for the third time since midsummer, but bigger shipments from Western Canada will do little to ease global worries about a shortage of high-quality milling wheat.

Too much rain last summer in Western Canada and during the current harvest in eastern Australia has watered down wheat quality.

While the board, one of the world’s biggest grain exporters, expects to move more wheat than it projected earlier after favourable late-harvest conditions, spring wheat quality will be the lowest since 2004, the board said in its annual grain-marketing report to farmers.

“In the end, lower-than-average quantity and quality was achieved,” said CWB president and chief executive Ian White.

Only about 38 per cent of the spring wheat crop has reached the top two milling grades, with protein levels similar to last year but below norms, said CWB chief operating officer Ward Weisensel.

Quality of durum, used in making pasta, and barley, is among the lowest ever seen, the board said.

Canada is usually the world’s No. 6 wheat grower and the top producer and exporter of spring wheat, used in baking.

The board raised its grain export target by 800,000 tonnes, or 4.8 per cent, to 17.4 million tonnes from its last estimate in late November. The new target is down seven per cent from last year’s exports.

It includes 11.8 million tonnes of wheat (up 1.1 million tonnes or 10 per cent), four million tonnes of durum (up 8.1 per cent) and 1.5 million tonnes of barley (down about one-third), mainly feed barley.

A surge in corn values and lack of exports from drought-stricken Russia and Ukraine have lifted the wheat price floor, Weisensel said.

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