Canada Markets

Grain Shipments by Province Show Weak Performance

Cliff Jamieson
By  Cliff Jamieson , Canadian Grains Analyst
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Week 29 data from the Ag Transport Coalition points to outstanding orders reaching a crop year high of 3,965 hopper cars for the week ending Feb. 18 (blue line), while rationed or cancelled orders surged for the eighth consecutive week to 16,295 hopper cars. (DTN graphic by Cliff Jamieson)

The Ag Transport Coalition, which provides data which accounts for 90% of the Western Canadian grain moved, shows the two railways digging a deeper and deeper hole in their latest week 29 Weekly Performance Update. Between the two railroads, a reported 38% of the 8,288 empty hopper cars ordered were spotted for loading. This was realized given CP's car spotting, which covered 66% of the cars requested, and CN spotting just 17% of the cars requested, with both reaching the weakest performance seen this crop year.

Over the past seven weeks, CP has slipped from spotting 90% of cars in demand to the 66% achieved in week 29. At the same time, CN's performance has slipped from 90% to 17% over the past eight weeks. The number of outstanding orders (blue line on chart) tied to this shortage of cars spotted has climbed four times in the past five weeks to 3,965 cars, a crop year high.

A more worrisome trend is seen on the brown line of the chart, which points to cancelled orders, or orders rationed by the railroads. As seen on the attached graphic, this number has grown from 10,574 cars in week 21 to 16,295 cars in week 29, or 5,721 cars. Growth in this number has been an average of 715 cars/week, while the largest weekly jump was seen in the past week of 1,940 cars.

During week 29, 79.6% of the hopper car demand was tied to West Coast shipping, while the demand for west-bound cars is slightly higher at 83.2% of total demand on average over the past four weeks. The Canadian Grain Commission's primary elevator shipping data points to the impact growing larger as we move from east to west across the Prairies.

Manitoba's cumulative primary elevator shipments, as of week 29, are reported at 5.1097 million metric tons, which is 13.6% higher than realized in 2016/17 and 27.5% higher than the four-year average for the same period. On a volume basis, crop year volume moved is 610,900 metric tons ahead of last year and 1.1 mmt higher than the five-year average.

Saskatchewan's primary elevator shipments are 5.8% below year-ago volumes at 12.160 mmt, while is 1.8% higher than the four-year average for this period. On a volume basis, crop year shipments are 749,200 mt behind the same period last crop year and 211,085 mt ahead of the five-year average.

At the same time, Alberta's cumulative shipments are pegged at 3.5671 mmt, down 5.4% year-over-year while 1.1% below the four-year average. On a volume basis, crop year shipments are 430,700 mt behind the same period last crop year and 85,000 behind the four-year average.

Total primary elevator shipments are down 2.3% from the same period in 2016/17 and 4.9% higher than the four-year average.

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DTN 360 Blog

This week's question asks if current railway performance issues are affecting your farm or area. You can weigh in with your response to this week's poll found in the lower-right corner of your DTN Canada Home Page. Thanks for your input!

Cliff Jamieson can be reached at cliff.jamieson@dtn.com

Follow Cliff Jamieson on Twitter @CliffJamieson

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