Ice-breaking activities have begun on Lake Superior this week, with two U.S. ice-breakers en route to Duluth, Minnesota and the Canadian's Coast Guard's Samuel Risley heading for Thunder Bay. The Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce 2019 Opening of Navigation luncheon is planned for April 4.
Over the past three years, Canadian Grain Commission data shows an average of close to 7 million metric tons shipped from Thunder Bay, with exports averaging 1.759 mmt over the period. The balance of the volume is largely transfers to port terminals, with a smaller volume shipped to domestic markets.
The attached chart shows stocks in store Thunder Bay for selected crops as of week 32, or the week ending March 10. This may provide a glimpse of what is expected to move when navigation begins. Wheat stocks are below last year while close to the three-year average. Stocks of durum at 198,300 metric tons and oats at 62,400 mt are well above recent years, while stocks of oilseeds such as canola and soybeans are well below recent years and could potentially point to slow eastern movement when navigation begins.
The Ag Transport Coalition reports no railcars shipped to Thunder Bay in week 32. This is consistent with the same week in the 2017-18 crop year, with movement of 254 cars shipped in the week following and as high as 1,939 cars shipped six weeks later in week 39.
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