Statscan trims Canada '07 wheat and barley crops

Thu Dec 6, 2007 11:55am EST
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By Roberta Rampton

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Canadian farmers harvested slightly less grain than earlier projected because hot, dry weather slashed yields in the south and wet conditions hurt crops in the north, Statistics Canada said on Thursday.

The report leaves Canada with 587,000 tonnes less wheat than earlier predicted -- a difference that analysts would ignore in a normal year, but a margin that was expected to cause jitters this year because of shrinking world supplies.

"It emphasizes how tight wheat stocks are in the world," said Bruce Burnett, director of weather and crop surveillance at the Canadian Wheat Board, one of the world's largest wheat exporters.

World wheat prices rallied to historic highs earlier this year with stocks approaching 30-year lows amid production snags around the globe.

Canada's wheat crop was 20.6 percent smaller than last year, contributing to the wheat rally.

Statscan said farmers harvested 20.054 million tonnes of wheat, down 3 percent from its October 4 estimate of 20.641 million tonnes and at the low end of trade predictions.

Minneapolis wheat futures were higher after the report, despite early weakness in other wheat markets, with March up 10-1/4 U.S. cents to U.S. $9.65.

But the biggest surprise in the report came from a steep cut in barley yields in Saskatchewan and Alberta which dropped national production to 10.984 million tonnes, 7 percent below earlier estimates of 11.822 million tonnes.   Continued...

<p>Canadian wheat grows in a field near Teulon, Manitiba, July 26, 2006. REUTERS/Shaun Best</p>