Canada Markets

Rail Movement Points to a Late Crop Year Surge

Cliff Jamieson
By  Cliff Jamieson , Canadian Grains Analyst
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This chart shows the daily number of railcars on wheels moving grain over recent months, with the 5,230 cars as of June 28 the highest seen since April 25. (DTN graphic by Cliff Jamieson)

The June Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Outlook for Principal Field Crops indicated that export movement of cereals, oilseeds, pulses and special crops "slowed sharply in late May on tight domestic supplies and is expected to remain slow until newly harvested supplies become available." Carry-out stocks as of July 31, the last day of the crop year for all crops except corn and soybeans, are forecast to reach record lows.

While movement remains historically low, the AG Transport Coalition reports that the June 28 loads on wheels count reached 5,230 cars, up sharply (94.5%) from the recent May 25 low of 2,689 cars, while the highest daily count seen since April 25.

Despite this late crop year surge in movement, this movement remains well below average for this time of year. Over the past three years, which includes the June 28 report for 2021 and 2020, along with the June 26 report for 2019, the current number of cars reported is down from an average of 9,352 cars while down 2,165 cars or 29.2% from one year ago.

Current movement coincides with grain deliveries into licensed facilities that have increased for four consecutive weeks as of week 46 or the week ending June 19 to 648,500 mt, although this is down 43.5% from the three-year average of 1.149 million metric tons delivered for this week.

Today's Daily Network Status points to speculation that shippers are moving future orders forward which they believe has been the situation for a period of time, which could lead to much lower activity late in the crop year and into August. Should this pace of movement continue or even grow higher over the remaining weeks of the crop year, this could lead to necessary revisions in the government's estimates for 2021-22.

As well, another interesting point is that these results are taking place while an estimated 750 CN employees are on strike and the railroad remains operational. Since the June 18 strike began, the daily loads on wheels averaged 1,940 CN cars using the eight days reported by the coalition, while the five-day average prior to the strike is 1,997 cars, only modestly higher

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