To and fro: A year of grains in review

The 2012/13 marketing year was the first of its kind in Canada where producers in the Prairies were able to freely market their own grain.

The 2012/13 marketing year was the first of its kind in Canada where producers in the Prairies were able to freely market their own grain. It’s undeniable that a drought in the Black Sea region of Europe (Ukraine, Russia, etc.) and the U.S. supported prices throughout the first three-to-five months of 2013, as producers took advantage of $10 wheat and even $15 canola. However, despite the extended winter and subsequent wet spring, the 2013 crop went into the ground across North America in record speed (If this isn’t telling of the technology we have at our disposal, then I’m not sure what is). That being said, what was produced was also a record (not just North America but globally) and prices have since fallen off the enjoyable perches seen at this time a year ago.

Around the time we were seeding, on the other side of the equator, South America was still in the process of trying to ship out their record crop of corn and soybeans. Brazil went head-to-head with the U.S. for top soybean-producing nation as both countries took off over 82 million tonnes of the oilseed (America took the win by a debatable 500,000 tonnes). Problems came in shiploads though (literally) as Brazil faced significant logistical issues of getting their crop from field to port. Poor road conditions, dock worker strikes, and waiting lines of over three months in the seas outside main ports kept Brazil’s biggest customer, China, on its toes. However, China seems to be turning the tide back to more normalized growth rates (at least for them). As the world’s largest consumer of commodities, their rapidly growing middle class (around 350 million people), has brought about an insatiable demand for meat. As such, grain imports by the People’s Republic are all seen up in the 2013/14 marketing year, especially for soybeans, up over 15 per cent to almost 70 million tonnes!

Ultimately, the U.S.D.A. sees crop production in 2013/14 much larger than the year previous (again, due to drier weather seen in a few places). Specifically, soybean production is seen growing almost six per cent to 283.9 million tonnes with another record crop expected out of Brazil (U.S.D.A. forecasts 88 million tonnes but the majority of private estimates are around 90 million). For corn, production is seen growing 11.75 per cent to 964.3 million tonnes, with Ukraine poking its head in as a major player, producing 30 million tonnes and becoming the world’s third-largest exporter of the coarse grain. Finally for wheat, global output jumped 8.4 per cent to 711.4 million tonnes, mostly due to higher production in Australia (18 per cent year-over-year production growth), Russia (36.5 per cent), Ukraine (40 per cent), & Canada (38 per cent).

With the 2013 calendar turning over, it was a year of big production. Undoubtedly, improvements in agronomy practices, equipment advancements, and new tools (such as the FarmLead Mobile app), have provided the individual producer the tools to be more efficient and smarter when it comes to working the land. Watch for the likes of South America, the Black Sea, and China to dominate headlines in 2014 as these are the largest emerging markets in the agricultural industry (the former two regions for production and the latter for consumption just as food security is becoming more important than ever when it comes to the People’s Republic).

Brennan Turner is originally from Foam Lake, SK, where his family started farming the land in the 1920s. After completing his degree in economics from Yale University and then playing some pro hockey, Mr. Turner spent some time working in finance before starting, a risk-free, transparent online and mobile grain marketplace (app available for iOS & Android). His column is a summary of his free, daily market note, the FarmLead Breakfast Brief. He can be reached via email ( or phone (1-855-332-7653).

— FarmLead Breakfast Brief


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