By: Jeremy Simes
The 2014–15 production of barley in Canada is expected to drop 30 per cent to 7.1 million tonnes, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) Outlook for Principal Field Crops report.
However, that could mean an increase in barley prices over the coming years, said Brian Otto, president of the Barley Council of Canada.
“The market will dictate what happens. If there’s a shortage of barley, then prices will go up, and more people will want to plant more acres for next year’s harvest.”
Area seeded in Canada for barley is expected to decline by 458,000 hectares from about 2.8 million in 2013–14 to an expected 2.4 million in 2014–15. Area harvested is expected to fall 518,000 hectares from about 2.6 million to 2.1 million.
That’s mainly due to higher prices producers can receive by planting other crops, said John Pauch, a coarse grains analyst with AAFC.
Farmers who produced top-notch malt should expect premium prices for 2014–15, he added.
Malt quality is expected to decline, meaning those who produced high-quality crop this year, and have excellent carryover stocks from last year, will reap the benefits due to limited supplies, Pauch said.
Despite weakened production numbers expected this year, overall carryout stocks from last year’s record harvest of barley should last throughout 2014–15, Pauch said.
“It’ll be tight, but we likely won’t run out.”
Wet conditions late into harvest, including snow that hit parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan late September, slowed the barley crop development and harvest operations, according to the report.
Those conditions produced sprouting, mildew and staining problems, contributing to a yield loss. This year’s barley yield is forecasted to fall 0.52 tonnes per hectare from 3.86 in 2013–14 to 3.34.
“It was a rare year,” Otto said. “What happened to southern Alberta quality was really unusual. There was warm rain causing pre-harvest sprouting. We’ve always been known to produce great-quality crop.”
The average price of barley is expected to range from $150 to $180 per tonne for 2014–15. In some cases, that’s a decrease of up to $38 from $188 per tonne in 2013–14.
Abundant world crop supplies are also expected to lower global prices for all grain. However, a weak Canadian dollar will provide some support for Canadian grain.
To put the barley numbers into context, the total crop production for all grain in Canada is expected to decline by 22 per cent to 76.1 metric tonnes. However, 2014–15 production is expected to be three per cent above the five-year average.
The outlook was projected early September by AAFC, and the estimates are based on Statistics Canada’s October report on area, yield and production through farmer surveys. The final report will be ready in December.