USA: There is mixed news about barley outlook 2006
Barley producers are starting to seed the 2006 crop as field conditions permit, and according to Steven Edwardson, executive administrator of the North Dakota Barley Council, there is mixed news from both public and private information sources that are providing some interesting perspectives for barley, Farm and Ranch Guide posted on April 27.
First, the USDA Crop Planting Intentions Report on March 31 estimated that barley acres will be 3.667 million acres, down five percent from the 3.875 acres planted in 2005, Edwardson said. If those figures are realized, this will be the lowest barley planted acreage on record.
Barley acreage is expected to remain stable in North Dakota in 2006, at 1.2 million acres, but this will tie 2005's figures as the lowest planted acreage of barley in the state since records began in 1926.
Edwardson also mentioned that other major barley producing states are indicating a decrease in acres for 2006 as well. Those states include: Idaho - 600,000 acres, down five percent from 2005; Montana - 800,000 acres a decline of 11 percent; Washington - 205,000 acres, down five percent; and Minnesota - 85,000 acres, 32 percent less than 2005.
In the April grain stocks report, the USDA estimates the supply of barley is 128 million bushels, which is unchanged from the March report. The USDA is projecting ending stocks at 105 million bushels at the end of the marketing year, which is 23 million bushels lower than the 2004/2005 marketing year.
There is still a significant carryover supply that is causing farmers to carefully evaluate planting intentions, and is likewise causing buyers to be cautious in their malt barley contracting programs, Edwardson said. Growers will be carefully monitoring market opportunities in wheat and other crop enterprises.
In looking to the north, Edwardson said Canada reports a generally improved outlook for barley in the Prairie Provinces, large due to the potential decrease in U.S. barley plantings. Western Canada has a fairly large carryover supply of barley, and he predicts it will take time before prices respond to increasing demand and decreased stocks.
If Canada has a normal quality barley crop, sellers are expecting strong exports to U.S. markets, he said.
Edwardson said at the present time local elevator prices in North Dakota remain fairly flat. Feed barley prices are ranging from $1.25 to $1.45 per bushel. Cash malting barley prices have strengthened modestly in recent months, with prices ranging from $1.85 to $2.30 per bushel.
Spring planting conditions, coupled with the rate at which buyers continue to consume carryover stocks, could result in strengthening of prices, he said.
A check of local elevator boards prices on the website smallgrains.org indicated malting barley prices were steady to up a nickel or a dime in some cases. Spot cash prices for malting barley fell in a narrow range of $2.11 to $2.35 a bushel.
Feed barley prices remained mostly steady, however one location listed feed barley prices at 30 cents less than two weeks ago. Feed barley prices varied from a high of $1.47 a bushel to a low of $1.24.
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