Global durum crops in good shape, for now

Winnipeg | CNS Canada — Since North America and Australia both produced poor-quality durum crops in 2014-15, all eyes are on Mexico, the U.S. desert, Europe and North Africa to come up with some higher-quality product.

And so far, most crops in those areas look fairly good, Alan Hegemeier, a merchandiser with CHS Inc., said during a presentation here at the Wild Oats Grainworld conference.

The next crop to come off will be Mexico’s, which looks to be in great condition so far. Stands are well set and farmers are eager to increase yields by adding more fertilizer due to strong global prices.

The U.S. desert crop also looks good so far, as does the North African crop with the exception of a few places that could use a bit more rain.

So far, the European Union is also looking poised to produce a very good durum crop, as weather conditions have been favourable so far.

But we’re not out of the woods yet, Hegemeier said.

“Timing is everything, especially with durum,” he said. “This is where we were last year at this point in time, and we had a collapse in the quality in the EU crop, and that definitely could happen again.

“If it does, it could be even more interesting than it was this year.”

Looking forward to the 2015-16 durum crops in the U.S. and Canada, acreage is expected to increase, which could result in more production. But the jump won’t likely be as drastic as first thought, because prices have pulled back over the past couple of months.

Hegemeier said U.S. acres could jump by about five to 10 per cent compared to a year ago.

In Canada, he’s heard rumblings of an increase of up to 20 per cent, though other speakers at the event predicted 2015-16 Canadian durum acreage will be up about 15 per cent.

— Terryn Shiells writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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