CWB Sees Exports At 10-Year High

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The Canadian Wheat Board expects to export more grain from the 2009-10 crop year than it has in 10 years, after record-warm September weather led to high crop quality and yields, the CWB said Jan. 6.

The CWB raised its Oct. 30 export forecast by 1.2 million tonnes to 18.7 million tonnes. However, durum exports will continue to lag due to large supplies in the world market.

It expects to ship 13.5 million tonnes of wheat, 3.5 million tonnes of durum and 1.7 million tonnes of barley, but said some of the targets could still move higher.

“After experiencing a growing season in which crop production and quality was continually revised downward due to poor weather conditions (earlier), the CWB is pleased to be moving ahead with a strong export program notable for its high-quality grain,” chief operating officer Ward Weisensel said.

Weisensel had said Oct. 30 he expected the CWB to export 17.5 million tonnes of grain. But Statistics Canada said Dec. 3 farmers harvested the second-biggest all-wheat crop in nine years.

The CWB’s latest forecast boosts spring wheat exports by a million tonnes from its Oct. 30 estimate, raises the barley target by 200,000 tonnes and leaves its durum projection unchanged.

The industry had anticipated bigger wheat exports when StatsCan projected the larger-than-expected crop, said Jerry Klassen, an independent grain analyst in Winnipeg.

The high quality of the crop means there may be less use of wheat as domestic feed, Klassen said.

It’s not surprising that grain demand remains strong despite weak economic conditions, said Gord Flaten, the CWB’s vice-president of marketing and sales.

“The recession doesn’t have a very big impact on the grain trade generally,” he said.

While the new all-wheat, durum and barley crops are larger than expected earlier in the season, they’re smaller than last year. However, total supply is greater due to larger carry-in stocks, Flaten said.

World durum production is estimated by the International Grains Council at a near-record 40 million tonnes, Weisensel noted, and weak demand combined with large crops in Europe and North America have pushed prices lower.

Expected lower-than-average protein levels in this year’s Canadian wheat crop will pressure prices, the CWB said.

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