More durum may come to those who wait

Durum wheat. (

CNS Canada –– Cool, wet weather may have slowed crop development and delayed harvest, but durum is determined to be worth the wait with above-average yields.

“We’re looking at some fairly high yields given the early estimates… average yields should come in at 47.5 to 48 bushels per acre this year,” said Jerry Klassen, manager of the Canadian office of Swiss-based GAP SA Grains and Produits. “That’s up from last year, which was 34.4 (bushels per acre).”

Some durum in Alberta and along the Saskatchewan border may ready for harvest in late August, but the bulk of crops should be harvested starting around Sept. 10, he said.

“We’re going to be very sensitive to some rains, but I think the frost risk is quite low… probably only 30 per cent of the crop will be vulnerable to frost risk this year,” he said.

With a large quantity can come problems with quality — something Klassen said they are keeping an eye on.

“We’re watching how the fusarium develops and how much farmers are spraying…as you go farther west the fusarium issue seems to be quite a bit less… in the heart of the durum area it seems to be okay,” he said. “There is a large uncertainty as to how that will affect quality.”

Vitreousness is also expected to be an issue, which usually shows up when yields are high because protein in durum is lower, which could also be a downgrading factor, he said.

However, prices are still down $2-$3 a bushel from last year as the market focuses on yield potential, he said.

“Prices for durum in (Canada) are $6 to $6.50 (per bushel) in the elevator system,” Klassen said. “We’ve got a fairly good crop coming in Canada and the U.S. as far as yield goes, and the pressure on the market is coming from anticipation of greater yields.”

The market is slow right now, which is normal for this time of year, Klassen said, but he expects to see more activity as business picks up in September.

“Quality has taken a backseat here but will likely come to the forefront in the next month…that’s when you could see the market take some direction from the quality.” Klassen said.

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

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