The Canadian Grain Commission's Grain Statistics Weekly for week 32, or the week ending March 13, shows total prairie grain stocks at 4.133 million metric tons (mmt), down 50,300 metric tons (mt) from the previous week. This volume has been reported in a narrow range from 4.014 mmt to 4.1833 mmt during the past four weeks.
The current volume represents 75.2% of the 5.495 mmt estimate of elevator working capacity as utilized by the Grain Marketing Program, with overall prairie space viewed as good as we move into the spring period when deliveries slow due to muddy yards, road bans and spring seeding.
By province, the 2.0099 mmt of stocks in Saskatchewan represents 73% of estimated working capacity for the province. The 750,300 mt reported for Manitoba represents 69.7% of working capacity and the 1.3456 mmt of reported stocks for Alberta represents 81.9% of estimated working capacity, despite being located the closest to West Coast ports.
While the blue bars on the attached chart represent the current grain stocks for week 32, the brown bars represent the five-year average. Current stocks are the lowest seen in five years, with stocks in the 2016-17 crop year at 3.8963 mmt as of week 32.
As of week 32, total grain stocks for 2021-22 are down only 5.9% from the five-year average. This can be viewed as high when one considers AAFC's forecast for Canadian production of the principal field crops falling by 29% year-over-year, while exports are estimated to fall by 37.3%.
There is some positive news. In the most recent week, or week 32, Canada's two major railways spotted 85% of the cars wanted for loading during the week wanted, up 10 percentage points from the previous week while is the best performance seen in 17 weeks. This is reported in the AG Transport Coalition's Weekly Performance Update. During the past four weeks, an average of 60% of the cars wanted have been spotted each week by both railroads combined, while this number slipped as low as 40% in Week 23.
In addition, the number of outstanding orders has dropped sharply in week 32. A large drop in CP's open orders from the previous week contributed to an overall 34% drop in open orders to 730 hopper cars. This is reported to be the lowest number of outstanding orders since mid-November and the first time this number has been reported below 1,000 during this period.
Industry remains on edge as CP's weekend deadline nears that would force a lock-out of more than 3,000 Teamster Canada workers that would lead to a serious blow to grain movement.
Cliff Jamieson can be reached at email@example.com
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