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Canada - wheat grades below No. 1 or 2
Calgari, Dec 9, 2004
Farmers reported record numbers for grain stocks across the Prairies this year, but a crippling August frost, followed by soggy harvest conditions, took their toll on quality.

"In some cases we had record yields,'' said David Burroughs, head of the crop report unit for Statistics Canada, assessing the final crop production figures for 2004.

"But the quality of the wheat and a lot of the grains was not what we would expect,'' Burroughs said Wednesday from Ottawa. "We do know they weren't properly matured because of the frost in August and rains in September.''

Dwayne Lee, a market analyst with the Canadian Wheat Board, says close to one-third of all wheat will only be sold as feed, a jump from the normal 10 per cent of the harvest.

"We're estimating roughly 6 million tonnes of feed wheat out there,'' said Lee. "At the end of the day, it means less money for growers.''

The strength of the Canadian dollar will also hurt, since much of the wheat is sold in US dollars to overseas markets.

Total wheat production jumped 14 per cent to 23.9 million tonnes in the Prairies, up 2.9 million tonnes from 2003. The recent 10-year average is 22.4 million tonnes.

Statistics Canada reported a record yield of 38 bushels per acre, up from 32 bushels in 2003. That pushed spring wheat production up 13 per cent to 18 million tonnes. The 10-year average is 17.5 million tonnes.

Harvested acreage was down in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Farmers in some northern areas couldn't even complete their harvest because of snow.

Quality ultimately suffered, with more than half the crops producing wheat grades below No. 1 or 2.

Linda MacNair of Graysville, Man., described 2004 as one of the most challenging years she's faced in more than 30 years of farming. "At the end of the day we probably had about half a crop,'' MacNair said from her farm in south-central Manitoba.

"Our corn production had to be totally destroyed because of mould. Our wheat crop was abundant, but the quality was very, very poor,'' she said. "Our wheat is a now being marketed as No. 3 ... so we really take a hit on price.''

Durum production was up 16 per cent to 5 million tonnes, largely on the yield of 35 bushels an acre, up from 26 bushels in 2003. The jump was most dramatic in Saskatchewan, where most of Canadian durum is grown. Production was up 735,000 tonnes, to 3.9 million tonnes, the result of an increase in yield from 24 to 33 bushels per acre.

Alberta production was down 27,000 tonnes from a year earlier to 1 million tonnes.

There was record soybean production in Ontario and Quebec. Late spring planting conditions prompted many farmers to switch from corn to soybeans and they were rewarded with above-average yields and increased harvested area.
MGR Archive 10.12.2004
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