Over the past five crop years (2011/12 through 2015/16) feed barley prices have rallied an average of $31/metric ton, or 15.2% from the early March low to the high reached as early as May 2 and as late as July 9, according to data reported by the Alberta Canola Producers Commission. The smallest increase was seen in 2015/16, when the price increased $11/mt or 5.3% over this period.
This spring's move saw price delivered Lethbridge rally from the early March low of $155/mt to a high of $185/mt late last week, in line with the five-year average, although early week trade shows this price easing. Old-crop feed supplies are not in short supply, although willing sellers may be. On Twitter today, one tweet today shows a northeastern Alberta farmer running a combine and a seed drill side by side in the field. Marketing and moving grain is likely low on the list of priorities, given the delayed planting progress in much of the western Prairies. Another acquaintance from western Saskatchewan recently suggested that this year is a first for both seeding and combining on the May long weekend. Untimely rains, wet yards and road bans have also played a role in limiting feed availability.
AAFC's latest May supply and demand estimates, which include the latest March 31 stocks report released by Statistics Canada, shows interesting data when it comes to feed, waste and dockage entries, which is a residual number in the supply/demand table. Durum feed, waste and dockage are estimated at 1.690 mmt, up 1.389 mmt or 461% from the previous crop year. The estimate for wheat (excluding durum) is 4.079 mmt, up 913,000 mt or 28.8% from the 2015/16 crop year. Despite this hike in usage, durum ending stocks are expected to climb 118% or 1.3 mmt, while wheat stocks are expected to increase by 10% or 422,000 mt to 4.5 mmt, while exports remain behind the pace needed to reach this level, which suggests that ending stocks could be higher. Despite an extra 2.6 mmt of feed wheat disappearance, the estimate for barley usage is viewed as flat, virtually unchanged from the previous 2015/16 crop year at 5.827 mmt.
Another factor to watch is the sheer volume of spring-threshed grains, much of which will be looking for a home in feed markets. As of the May 2 Alberta Crop Report, an estimated 1.1 million acres of 2016 crop were yet to be harvested. As of the most recent May 23 report, an estimated 233,000 acres remained. A significant amount of the outstanding acres to be harvested in Saskatchewan are also likely off, adding further potential feed supplies to the market.
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