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Feed weekly outlook: Alberta prices see wide range

CNS Canada — A tale of two markets is emerging in Alberta as feed users in the south take advantage of cheap corn trucked in from Manitoba, while users farther north pay higher prices.

“As far as Red Deer north goes, it’s quite different than feedlot alley,” said Joseph Billett, general manager of Agfinity in Stony Plains. “We’re dealing with a lot of feeders who still need coverage for February and March.”

Northern operators, he said, are paying around $4.50-$4.60 a bushel for feed barley delivered, significantly higher than for their southern neighbours.

“They don’t want to, but they have to because they don’t have access to the corn like everyone down south.”

The trade is slightly different on feed wheat, with both northern buyers and sellers staying firm on the price they want.

In some cases, buyers are “starting to get a whiff of $6” per bushel, according to Billett, which makes them more prone to hang onto their supplies.

“It’s the old case of who’s gonna blink first?” he said.

Some feedlots north of Calgary tried to get corn when it first arrived but soon backed off due to the high transportation costs involved.

When it comes to Feedlot Alley near Lethbridge, though, Billett said some lots have more corn then they know what to do with.

“Some are so overbought they’re selling some of their feed to other feedlots,” he said.

In northern areas, though, Billett thinks barley prices could soon see an increase.

“I don’t know what the ceiling is but feeders are buying,” he said. “Some guys are already buying into March.”

Some farmers could come out on the short end, though, if they wait too long for the price they want, he said.

Six dollars for wheat seems to be the magic price some farmers are talking about, but Billett said the market doesn’t always get as high as sellers want. In the meantime, the feedlot can fill up and the market can disappear.

“That’s always the trap, that’s the gamble,” he said.

With the month of February here, farmers are also being reminded to move their feed barley before secondary road weight limits come into play.

— Dave Sims writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Glacier FarmMedia company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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