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Barley Ending Stocks Expected Heavier; Wheat, Oats Lighter

Agriculture Canada is forecasting heavier barley stocks at the end of the 2023-24 crop year, but lighter inventories of wheat and oats. 

In its latest monthly supply-demand estimates on Friday, Ag Canada pegged barley ending stocks for the current marketing year at 1 million tonnes, up 250,000 from the January estimate and above the previous year’s 709,000 tonnes. If accurate, it would be the heaviest barley ending stocks since 2017-18 at 1.24 million tonnes. 

All the increase in the ending stocks estimate is due to a reduction in feed, waste, and dockage, which fell to 5.34 million tonnes from 5.59 million for both January and 2022-23.  

Ag Canada’s February supply-demand update reflects the Statistics Canada grain stocks report released earlier this month, which pegged national barley stocks as of Dec. 31, 2023 at 5.5 million tonnes, up 6% from a year earlier and 10% above the average, despite a smaller 2023-24 supply. The stocks report implied total domestic use of barley in the August – December period of 2.9 million tonnes, down sharply year-over-year and from the average, “primarily due to slow feed use,” Ag Canada said. 

With the heavier stocks, Ag Canada lowered its season average price forecast for barley, dropping it $15 from last month to $320/tonne - well down from $417 the prior year. 

For wheat, Ag Canada held its 2023-24 durum ending stocks forecast unchanged from January at 450,000 tonnes, up slightly from 409,000 a year earlier. 

On the other hand, wheat (excl durum) stocks were lowered 400,000 tonnes from January to 3.1 million tonnes, driven by a roughly 150,000-tonne downward revision in the carryin from the 2022-23 crop year and a 250,000-tonne increase in the 2023-24 export forecast to 20.25 million. 

With the changes, all wheat ending stocks for 2023-24 are now seen at 3.55 million tonnes, down from 3.95 million in January and little changed from the 2022-23 ending stocks level of 3.51 million. 

At $345/tonne, the wheat (excl durum) price forecast was steady from January, with durum also steady at $400. 

Forecasted oat ending stocks were trimmed 50,000 tonnes from January to 400,000, as a 50,000-tonne reduction in the export forecast was more than offset by an upward revision in feed, waste, and dockage to 888,000 tonnes from 778,000. 

The season average oat price forecast was lowered $5 from last month to $360/tonne, compared to $346 in 2022-23. 

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