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Canadian durum looks good but troubles lurk elsewhere

Canada’s durum crop is off to a good start, but there are problems in many other regions, says an analyst.

Farmers in southwestern Saskatchewan and southeastern Alberta received much-needed rainfall this spring.

“They think this is the best start they’ve had in five or six years,” said Neil Townsend, chief analyst with GrainFox.

Agriculture Canada estimates farmers planted 6.34 million acres of the crop and will produce 5.66 million tonnes.

That would result in a total supply of 6.13 million tonnes, a 37 per cent improvement over last year.

Townsend thinks supplies could top 6.5 million tonnes if farmers achieve the same average yield as 2022-23, which was 35.9 bushels per acre.

That would necessitate finding an additional one million tonnes of export demand compared to last year.

Farmers in the United States planted 2.03 million acres of durum, a 21 per cent increase over last year. That crop is also off to a good start.

The big question in the durum market is what will Turkey do this year? The country shocked the durum market by exporting an estimated 1.5 million tonnes of the crop in 2023-24, disrupting sales from other exporters.

“The durum farmers in Canada are not happy,” said Townsend.

“They think the marketing has been disastrous.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural service is forecasting Turkey will produce 4.4 million tonnes of durum in 2024-25, a 10 per cent increase over last year. Some in the trade think it will be closer to 4.7 million tonnes.

The USDA is forecasting two million tonnes of Turkish exports in the upcoming year, but that all hinges on the Turkish government keeping export channels open.

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“Man, if there was any reason why Turkey wasn’t going to be exporting, then Canada would really be in a good position,” said Townsend.

North Africa is harvesting its smallest wheat crop since 2016-27. The USDA is forecasting a combined 6.6 million tonnes of production out of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.

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