Blog: The Wheat Sheaf

Country deliveries continue to decline as seeding takes precedence

Rail

 
The Agriculture Transport Coalition (ATC) reported that CN and CP supplied a combined 98% of hopper cars ordered in grain week 41, slightly above last week's performance of 97%. In a year over year comparison for week 41, Canadian elevators ordered 9,044 hopper cars which represents an ask for an additional 680 cars of grain to be moved, or approximately 6 additional trains. Demand for western movement to both Prince Rupert and Vancouver remains strong. Of the 8,378 rail cars supplied in week 41, 5,297 were directed to bulk shipments in Vancouver and 1,230 were directed to bulk shipments in Prince Rupert. Shipments of grain East to Thunder Bay represented 1,941 rail cars for week 41.

 
Trucking


Country deliveries for week 41 continued to drop, and remain in line with the 3-year average for this time period. On average, country deliveries fall during this time period as the seeding of the new crop takes precedent over grain deliveries. Warmer weather is also resulting in continued road restrictions in some areas. Lower country deliveries and continued availability of empty rail hoppers have started to draw down country elevator stocks. For week 41, country elevator stocks dropped to 60% continuing a trend of returning to normal operating capacities.


Ports

 
Despite consistent delivery of grain by rail, grain stocks in port terminals decreased to 73% in week 41, compared to 76% last week. This capacity remains greater than average for this time of year.

Total Week 41 port unloads declined below average for this time of year. The overall shortfall relative to last crop year has now been eliminated, with year-over-year unloads in a positive range. This year over year increase has largely been due to the significant volume directed at Thunder Bay. West coast port unload volumes continue to improve, but remain behind volumes moved last year. Year over year, Vancouver unloads are 249,869 tonnes behind and Prince Rupert is 537,616 tonnes behind.

West coast vessel lineups for week 42 now sit at 37 ships, compared to 31 ships last week. Since last week, waiting vessels lineup for Vancouver has increased by 3 to 29 ships, while vessel lineups in Prince Rupert increased by 3 to 8 ships. The week over week change in average time in port for ships in Vancouver has remained unchanged at 11.1 days, and decreased in Prince Rupert from 9.4 days to 7.1 days. Generally, a vessel time in port of under 12 days is desired.

Limited sailings of container ships continue to create access issues to empty containers and space on ships for containerized grain exports.  For the year to date, the Port of Vancouver reports that 59 sailings have been cancelled due to the market disruptions from COVID-19. However, CN has removed a moratorium on container movement into the Vancouver region. This should help facilitate greater access to containers for trans loaders.

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