Bakers Journal

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Harvest looks huge, but quality unclear


August 27, 2008
By Bakers Journal

Aug. 27, 2008, Winnipeg, Man. – Canadian farmers are poised
to harvest about 27 per cent more wheat this year and a record
crop of canola, Statistics Canada said in its first
estimate of 2008 grain production.

Aug. 27, 2008, Winnipeg, Man. – Canadian farmers are poised
to harvest about 27 per cent more wheat this year and a record
crop of canola, Statistics Canada said in its first
estimate of 2008 grain production.

But farmers and traders are anxiously watching to see how
weather affects the quality of harvest, which has just begun in
the Prairie grain belt, one of the world's largest
grain-exporting regions.

"I've seen it rain for three weeks at harvest time, and
I've seen us have a harvest that … we never stopped turning a
wheel until the last kernel was in the bin," said Bill Gehl,
who farms near Regina, Saskatchewan.

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Crop quality seems promising so far, Gehl said, but
extended rains or a sudden hard frost could downgrade grain.

"The weather is just something that has really been
unpredictable," Gehl said, noting he had received 2 inches of
rain on Friday, deluging barley he hoped could achieve the high
quality needed to make malt, used in beer.

Statscan said farmers would harvest 25.426 million tonnes
of wheat, slightly below average trade estimates ahead of the
report of 25.6 million tonnes, but up from last year's
unusually small harvest of 20.054 million tonnes.

Last week, the U.S. Agriculture Department said it expected
Canada would contribute 25 million tonnes to what it forecast
would be a record world wheat crop.


A world shortage of wheat last year pushed prices to new
heights, prompting farmers around the globe to boost plantings,
since causing prices to moderate.

But heavy rains in Europe downgraded much of the wheat crop
to livestock feed. The quality of Canada's crop — known for
its bread-making quality — will be key, said Bruce Burnett of
the Canadian Wheat Board.

"Globally, there is tightness in terms of milling wheat,"
Burnett said.