The Canadian Wheat Board is reporting the strongest sales in a decade for the crop year that ends Saturday.

But the marketing agency says prices were lower than hoped for and farmers will likely face bleaker returns in the coming year because of heavy rains in recent months that soaked much of the Prairies.


A grain worker unloads wheat from a truck in Ohio. ((Ron Alvey/Associated Press))

"We undertook a very strategic sales program that enabled us to increase our exports in an aggressively competitive international market that was saturated with grain," Ian White, the wheat board's CEO, said Friday.

"It was certainly not as good as the past two years of high prices. There has been a significant supply response to those high prices and this has, in turn, led to lower prices around the world."

CEO Ian White said the wheat board exported about 18.8 million tonnes of wheat, durum and barley during the crop year.

Wheat exports of 13.6 million tonnes were the highest in a decade and durum exports reached 3.8 million tonnes, the highest in three years.

Net revenue returned directly to farmers is estimated at about $4.8 billion, he said.

'Severe effect on production'

However, the production outlook for the coming crop year is projected at 18.45 million tonnes — the lowest since 2002.

"All that rain and all those unseeded acres are having a severe effect on production," White said.

The board estimates that the excess rains have left 4.25 million hectares unseeded and ruined the prospects for another one million hectares that did get in the ground.

Allen Oberg, chairman of the wheat board's board of directors, said the unseeded land and low production forecast have put Prairie farmers in a dire situation.

"Farmers are resilient, but when you cannot even get seed into the ground, it's devastating," he said.