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Record grain movement in May

Another month, another record

Canada’s two major railways moved a record amount of grain in May.

For CN Rail May marked the third monthly record in a row having shipped 2.5 million tonnes of grain up from 2.4 million in May 2014, it said in a news release June 1.

CP Rail moved 2.8 million tonnes of grain in May, beating its previous record set in May 2014 by more than 300,000 tonnes, it said in a news release.

“CP has moved 7.3 per cent more grain and grain products this crop year as compared to last crop year, and 10 per cent more than the three-year average,” the release said.

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CN grain shipping so far this crop year, which began Aug. 1, 2019 and ends July 31, is 20 per cent above the three-year average.

“These unprecedented results come after record movements in March and April, where CN moved 2.62 million tonnes and 2.73 million tonnes, respectively from Western Canada,” CN said. “So far, during the 2019-20 crop year, CN has moved 23.3 million tonnes of western Canadian grain.”

As of May 31 CP had moved 24.17 million tonnes of grain during the current crop year.

CP said it spotted more than 6,000 cars each week in the late-April and early-May grain shipping weeks 39, 40 and 41, exceeding CP’s plan to ship 5,700 cars a week.

Both railways credited millions of dollars of investment in new, larger-capacity rail cars, locomotives and track. But reduced demand to ship other goods has given the railways more shipping capacity for grain, grain monitor Mark Hemmes of Quorum Corporation said in an interview June 3.

It’s too soon to say if the railways will ship a record volume of grain by the end of the crop year July 31, Hemmes said.

The current shipping record of 54.307 million tonnes was set last crop year.

Both railways noted the demand to ship grain has declined, as it always does this time of year, because farmers are busy seeding.

Both railways struggled to meet grain shippers’ demands earlier in the crop year due to derailments, avalanches and protesters’ blockades.

Grain companies want to ship most of their grain between October and March because that’s when world grain prices are usually the best. But traditionally during the winter rail capacity declines, in part, because of harsher operating conditions.

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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