hi-wheat-harvest-file

Last fall's harvest was 30 per cent bigger than usual, but due to a rail backlog, many Saskatchewan farmers are not able to ship their grain.

Grain prices are being pushed up by the unstable situation in Ukraine, but that will not be of any immediate benefit to Saskatchewan farmers, a commodities expert says.

In recent days, the Ukrainian president fled the country amid massive protests in Kyiv, followed by Russian forces moving in to occupy the Crimea region.

Ukraine is a major exporter of corn and wheat.

According to the Guardian newspaper, the price of wheat for delivery in May rose by as much as 5.9% to $6.38 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade on Monday. Corn for delivery in May rose by up to 3.7% to a six-month high of $4.81 a bushel.

However, Pro Farmer Canada president Mike Jubinville, who monitors world commodity markets, says Saskatchewan's rail transportation problem may prevent farmers here benefiting from those higher prices.

"They're the number three [exporter] of corn, number five of wheat, so you know it is an important point of export and has gotten the market's attention," Jubinville said. "Certainly not just in the agriculture commodities, in all markets."

Jubinville says the grain market will continue to be volatile. 

The large crop from last fall along with the harsher-than-usual winter (resulting in rail companies using shorter-than-usual trains) is slowing Saskatchewan shipments down, he said.

He sees the situation improving in several months, but by then customers may turn elsewhere for their grain — a missed opportunity. 

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story referred to Mike Jubinville as Mark. It has been corrected.
    Mar 04, 2014 2:30 PM CT