A Difficult Start
Conditions at the end of the 2017 Alberta harvest were in some cases below normal and above normal. Two of the main staple wheat crops, 86% of Hard Red Spring Wheat and 85% Durum Wheat were above the five year average for quality (Shooshtarian, 2017, para.2). Statistics Canada data estimates a 5% increase for wheat, excluding Durum (Statistics Canada, Wheat (excluding Durum), para.1) and Durum will fall 23% from last year (Statistics Canada, Durum, para.2). Prices for both are expected to rise later this year.
Why food prices will rise might be due to the drought conditions which affected winter wheat. Sub-surface moisture content was considered below average in the southern parts of the province and above average in the north (Shooshtarian, 2017, Regional Assessments). Moisture conditions across the southern prairie provinces are rated below average and recovering from drought conditions (Arnason, 2017, para.4).
Harvest has concluded within growing regions in the Southern Hemisphere. Despite increasing acreage (fall 2017) to boost production totals for their growing season, Argentina has suffered drought conditions which has resulted in the costliest agriculture disaster to date, to the tune of $3.4 billion dollars (Masters, 2018, para.2). South Africa wheat production has fallen 23% from last year (Mchunu, 2018, para.5). Australia wheat has dropped 36% (Reidy, 2018, para.2). The Southern growing regions have all mostly experienced drought conditions during the maturing phase along with early frost and/or wet conditions hampering harvesting.
The Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has forecasted the 2018-2019 growing season for wheat worldwide to contract by 1% (750 million tons). The United State’s Department of Agriculture’s WADSE Report also reflects this number as well (USDA, 2018, P.8).
Canadian estimates for the 2018-2019 growing season is forecasted to increase by 5% for Durum (Statistics Canada, Durum, p.2) and 4% for wheat, excluding Durum (Statistics Canada, Wheat (excluding Durum), p.3). Russian wheat production is expected to decline by 7.7% this year (Donley, 2018, para.1).
Drought conditions during the previous years can impact winter and spring crops which has resulted in the current numbers and downward revisions of forecasts. The downward production of most growing regions is a disturbing trend and at the end of next year will be telling if this is a long term trend.
What was not accounted for in the current forecasts is the delay that the Northern Hemisphere farming is experiencing due to cold or heat. Cold and wet conditions are hampering most major crops due to not being able to seed when the ground is not dry (Heard, 2017, para.17). Russian plantings are experiencing near drought conditions and it is hoped that rains will come (Gartner, 2018, para.2). Across the states and Canada, weather woes are preventing planting and the planting of shorter term duration crops, abandoning wheat, will result in lower production numbers for wheat later this year (Gartner, 2018, paras 3-4).
This graph was included in last’s year summary at the end of harvest and bears more consideration. 2017’s number is lower than the initial start in 2013 and also lower than the five year average. 2018’s projected numbers are around 4% but with plantings being delayed or abandoned we might see worse numbers going ahead. It will be interesting to see how production numbers turn out.
The effect that winter had on winter wheat growing and spring wheat planting has the effect of increasing wheat prices. Should these prices continue to be elevated, it will have the effect of increasing prices for foods that use wheat. Other classes of growth are experiencing difficulties in growing and we will continue to monitor and report on what we observe.
We hope that by knowing why price for foods are increasing that this will motivate you to do something. We can suggest and provide resources for you to do this. For example, your house is a stable growing environment and you can start by growing indoors utilizing a southward facing window. Also, if you have land then you can modify the landscape around your home to include fruit bearing trees and bushes, along with a garden. One could go the extra step of building a year round producing greenhouse, one which we have developed. In the coming posts, we will show you how to accomplish this. Stay tuned and happy growing to you!
Arnason, R. (December 14, 2197). Prairies remain dangerously dry. The Western Producer. Retrieved from https://www.producer.com/2017/12/prairies-remain-dangerously-dry/
Donley, A. (April, 27, 2018). Russia grain output to fall in 2018-19.World-Grain. Retrieved from http://www.world-grain.com/articles/news_home/World_Grain_News/2018/04/Russia_grain_output_to_fall_in.aspx?ID=%7BB15AB037-BAD9-45F3-B0EE-88BB7B01F347%7D
Gartner, L. (April 27, 2018). Wheat Gets Another Rally On Weather Concerns. Agriculture.com. Retrieved from https://www.agriculture.com/markets/analysis/wheat-gets-another-rally-on-weather-concerns
Heard, G. (April 15, 2018). US, Aussie concerns give hope for wheat price rise. Goondiwindi Argus. Retrieved from https://www.goondiwindiargus.com.au/story/5342712/us-aussie-concerns-give-hope-for-wheat-price-rise/
Masters, J. (March 30, 2018). Most Expensive Weather Disaster of 2018: a $3.9 Billion Drought in Argentina and Uruguay. Weather Underground. Retrieved from https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/most-expensive-weather-disaster-2018-39-billion-drought-argentina-and-uruguay
Mchunu, S. (January 22, 2018) Decline in wheat production will not affect food prices. Business Report. Retrieved from https://www.iol.co.za/business-report/economy/decline-in-wheat-production-will-not-affect-food-prices-12847050
Reidy, S. (February 13, 2018). Australian wheat production drops 38%. World-Grain. Retrieved from http://www.world-grain.com/articles/news_home/World_Grain_News/2018/02/Australian_wheat_production_dr.aspx?ID=%7B2212260E-A210-40ED-91CC-442082D45846%7D
U.S. Department of Agriculture (2018). World Agricultural Supply and Demand
Estimates. Retrieved from https://www.usda.gov/oce/commodity/wasde/latest.pdf
Shooshtarian, A. (2017). Crop Conditions as of October 31, 2017 - Final Report of 2017. Retrieved from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry website: http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$Department/deptdocs.nsf/All/sdd16511
Statistics Canada (2018). Canada: Outlook for Principal Field Crops (Crops). Retrieved from http://www.agr.gc.ca/resources/prod/doc/misb/mag-gam/fco-ppc/fco-ppc_2018-04-23-eng.pdf