Canadian imports of US corn are down sharply compared to a year earlier, but shipments into Alberta’s feedlot alley are still large enough to weigh on domestic barley prices.
“The barley price here will gradually decline,” said Errol Anderson, of Pro Market Communications in Calgary, adding that up to 30 unit trains of US corn are booked already. A 100-car unit train typically amounts to about 8,000 to 10,000 tonnes of grain.
“Once these cattle go onto corn, they won’t go back to barley – they’re done for the year,” Anderson said, adding the lower price of corn is making it an attractive alternative to barley.
Weekly US export sales data shows that Canadian corn imports are currently running well behind the year-ago level when drought cut into Canada’s domestic grain supplies. The US had exported 67,200 tonnes of corn to Canada as of Nov. 24, with 208,800 tonnes of outstanding business yet to move. That compares with exports of 426,500 tonnes and an additional 1.6 million tonnes of outstanding business at the same time a year ago.
Domestic barley supplies are much more plentiful this year, following a better growing season on the Prairies. Friday’s Statistics Canada crop production report pegged national barley output at 9.986 million tonnes, up 43.5% from last year’s drought-reduced crop.
Feed barley in Alberta is currently trading at anywhere from about C$7.35 to as high as $9.90/bu, delivered to the elevator