While presenting at the International Durum Forum for the U.S. Durum Growers Association in Minot, N.D. this week, the first question directed towards me came from the gentleman in the front row who wanted to know if the claims made by the most recent USDA report suggesting that imports for hard red spring wheat would increase to 60 million bushels this crop year would become reality? The topic had come up more than once in the one-day conference and was surely on the mind of the participants who hailed primarily from the No. 1-producing spring wheat State in the United States.
In paragraph one of the Nov. 8 USDA report under wheat, it states "Imports are projected 10 million bushels higher (than the September estimates) with larger supplies in Canada and stronger food use expected for HRS wheat." This would increase projected import levels of spring wheat to 60 million bushels or 1.633 mmt. This move comes after a similar statement was made in the September USDA report indicating a 10 mb increase in HRS imports due to the size of the Canadian crop.
According to the USDA, spring wheat imports into the U.S. have totaled 28 mb in 2010/11 (762,029 mt), 35 mb in 2011/12 (952,536 mt) and 43 mb in 2012/13 (1.170 mmt).
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To put Canada's projected 2013/14 red spring wheat export potential into perspective, U.S. imports of hard red spring wheat alone are projected to be higher than Japan's 2012/13 imports of all Canadian wheat, which was Canada's overall second largest wheat customer with exports reported at 1.554 mmt of all classes of Canadian wheat.
In addition to the 60 mb of spring wheat imports forecast for 2013/14, the USDA also forecasts an additional 10 mb of hard red winter wheat imports (272,000 mt) and 20 mb of soft red winter wheat imports (544,000 mt). Assuming Canada will see the lion's share of this business, total U.S. export potential is approaching 2.5 mmt, which dwarfs all other current export programs by a large measure.
My response was that while the stocks exist, the railways may determine Canada's fate in all export programs this crop year. According to the Grain Commission's Exports of Canadian Grain and Wheat Flour report which includes August and September data, total exports to the U.S. in the first two months of the crop year totaled 276,300 mt plus 107,669 mt of shipments from unlicensed facilities in August for a total of 383,969 mt. This compares directly to the 376,300 mt shipped in the same period last year.
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Cliff Jamieson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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