CWB dials up export expectations

The Canadian Wheat Board will now aim about two million tonnes higher than it did in mid-summer for its 2010-11 exports of wheat, barley and durum.

The board, in its annual Grain Marketing Report, has now put its export target for this crop year at 17.4 million tonnes, still down about a million tonnes from its 2009-10 and 2008-09 levels.

The CWB’s 2010-11 marketing program now targets exports of 11.8 million tonnes of wheat, four million tonnes of durum and 1.5 million tonnes of bulk barley.

“Grain prices have moved to relatively high levels, which is good news for farmers with grain in their bins,” chief operating officer Ward Weisensel said in a release Tuesday.

“However, the crop also presents a number of marketing challenges, as we work to familiarize customers with the positive intrinsic qualities of the grain produced on the Prairies this year.”

A drop in U.S. corn production has boosted the international feed market and wheat prices generally, the CWB said. Feed wheat prices for Prairie farmers have more than doubled from last year, with pooled returns now projected at $175.27 per tonne in Saskatchewan, up 120 per cent from 2009-10 payment levels.

Limits on exports from Russia and Ukraine, normally large suppliers of lower-grade grains, and production and quality problems in Australia have also lifted prices.

The CWB, whose most recent pool return outlook (PRO) was released Dec. 16, now projects farmers will receive spring wheat prices about 50 per cent higher than last year’s, meaning about $265 per tonne for top-quality spring wheat and about $193 (Saskatchewan farmgate) for the “more prevalent” No. 3 grade.

For durum, the CWB said Tuesday, top-quality grain is expected to bring about $232 in Saskatchewan (up about 55 per cent from last year) and $190 for the No.3 grade (up about 14 per cent).

Feed barley pool returns are projected at about $160 per tonne in Saskatchewan and malting barley at $182 per tonne, the CWB said.

Barley exports are expected to consist largely of feed barley, given international prices that have been competitive with domestic feed barley values, as well as very low supplies of selectable malting barley.

The CWB’s next PRO is due out Jan. 27.

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