The durum crop in Canada’s top producing province is in its worst condition in at least 13 years, hurt by a cocktail of heat, strong winds and lack of rain, official data showed, at a time when prices have already shown “solid gains”.
The proportion of durum wheat, the type used to make pasta, rated in “good” or “excellent” condition in Saskatchewan as of Monday was just 21%, compared with 30% in “poor” or “very poor” health, according to provincial officials.
The good or excellent figure halved from the 43% reported two weeks before, and was by far the lowest late-July reading on records going back to 2005.
Only once before in that time period has the figure fallen below 40% at this time of year, in 2015, when the yield fell to a seven-year low of 2.3 tonnes per hectare.
Last year, the yield recovered to a record high of 3.2 tonnes per hectare.
‘Significant rainfall is needed’
The deterioration – also evident too in condition data for spring wheat and canola at their lowest on data since 2005 – reflects in the main dry conditions which have left an estimated 60% of the province’s topsoil short of moisture.
“Significant rainfall is needed in most regions of the province to help replenish the topsoil and fill out crops,” Saskatchewan ag officials said.
However, they also flagged crop setbacks from other weather extremes too, saying that “several storms moved through the province late last week, with damage ranging from minimal to severe.
“There are also reports of insects such as grasshoppers, diamondback moths and aphids.”
Overall, the officials reported that “the majority of crop damage is attributed to hot temperatures, strong winds, hail, localised flooding and lack of rain”.
Saskatchewan’s problems are of heightened importance this year, given that it is Canada’s biggest producing province for spring wheat, at a time when another big grower, the US is expected to see a drought-depressed harvest.
With spring wheat the highest protein type, difficult to replace for many uses, this could present a problem for bakers.
For canola, of which Canada is the top exporter, a weak good or excellent rating of 52%, down from 92% a year ago, comes at a time of growing worries over drought setbacks to crop establishment in Australia, the second-ranked exporter of the oilseed.
Indeed, between the, Canada and Australia are responsible for 87% of world export, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
North American woes
However, Saskatchewan is of particular significance for durum in Canada, typically responsible for more than 80% of the harvest in the country, which is in turn the top exporter of the grain, ahead of the European Union.
Saskatchewan alone produced 5.63m tonnes of durum last year.
In the US, durum in top producing state North Dakota – which had a harvest of 1.6m tonnes last year, equivalent to more than half domestic output – is also in poor health, rated earlier this week at 14% good or excellent, down from 87% a year before.
Separately, the International Grains Council flagged “solid gains during July” in durum prices thanks to “uncertainty about the outlook for supplies in the major exporters”.
US export values rose about $19 a tonne month on month to $310-329 a tonne – outpacing a better-publicised rise in spring wheat export prices which, for dark northern spring wheat with 14% protein at Pacific North West ports, appreciated by $9 month on month to $345 a tonne.
Durum prices in the European Union, the second-ranked exporter, rose even faster, by $33 a tonne to $315 a tonne as measured in the French port of La Pallice, the IGC said.
(Source – http://www.agrimoney.com/news/solid-gains-for-durum-prices-as-heat-and-hail-hurt-canadas-crop—10909.html)