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Wheat prices give hope
Wheat prices are providing cash-strapped western farmers a glimmer of optimism.

New projections for the 2006-07 crop year from the Canadian Wheat Board show red spring wheat prices up $10 a tonne from a month ago.

But a spokeswoman for the board cautioned a strengthening Canadian dollar offsets price expectations, while producers also continue to deal with higher costs.

"Certainly it's always better when prices go up rather than down, and this rally is significant, there's no doubt about it," said Maureen Fitzhenry.

"It's just frustrating that the rally is tempered very significantly as well by the strengthening dollar, which until now has basically wiped out any actual gains in revenue for farmers. Every time the futures price rallies, the Canadian dollar rallies as well."

The wheat board, which markets western wheat and barley, issues regular estimates of crop year returns.

The May price outlook for No 1. red spring wheat with 13.5-per-cent protein is $207 a tonne, or $5.63 a bushel, compared with $197 a tonne a month earlier.

Fitzhenry said that tonne of wheat would be $259 if the Canadian dollar were still at 71 cents US, rather than near 90 cents.

Jason Newton, a Canadian Wheat Board market analyst, said Kansas City wheat futures recently hit 10-year highs, driven by concern about the hard red winter wheat crop in the U.S. Dry, hot weather has taken a toll, Newton said.

"The crop has further deteriorated from what we were originally expecting."

The U.S. is also predicting lower corn stocks going into next year. Newton said strong corn prices tend have a positive impact on wheat prices, which have already been rallying due to the dry weather.

Central Butte-area producer Grant Berger said the improved outlook for wheat is a positive sign, but it doesn't compare to the increase in costs over the last decade.

"You're paying 80 cents a litre for farm diesel right now and 10 years ago you were paying 30 cents," said Berger, who is moving his own operation away from grain farming and further into cattle ranching.

Farmers are also aware the price outlooks could change, said Berger, a representative with the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan. "Our crops aren't in the bin yet, either."

The gains for red spring wheat weren't reflected in the wheat board's durum wheat price outlooks, which were generally down $1 a tonne.

The stronger Canadian dollar is also having a negative impact on malting barley returns, the board said, offsetting higher price expectations.
MGR Archive 28.5.2006
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Russia Rapan $ 700
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USA Calrose #1 Paddy $480
EU Prices Baldo €660
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