| WINNIPEG, Manitoba/PARIS
WINNIPEG, Manitoba/PARIS Jan 29 Canada's
bountiful corn harvest is flowing across the Atlantic into feed
rations for Ireland's cattle herd, even as exporters struggle to
move other crops through the bottlenecked Canadian
Canada, which was a net corn importer until recent years,
reaped a record 14.2-million tonne corn crop in 2013. Most of
the crop stays where it is grown in the provinces of Ontario,
Quebec and Manitoba to fuel ethanol plants run by Husky Energy
Inc, GreenField Ethanol and Suncor Energy Inc.
But from August through December, the first five months of
Canada's 2013/14 crop marketing year, exporters shipped about
185,000 tonnes of corn, with nearly three-quarters of that
headed for Ireland, according to the Canadian Grain Commission.
"With the (corn) price increase over the past few years,
we've seen acres go up in Canada, and we've gone to (being) an
exporter now," said Mark Cumberbatch, corn trader at private
Canadian grain handler Parrish & Heimbecker.
Most Canadian corn sales to Ireland are for feeding cattle
in the world's fifth-largest beef exporter, he said.
Canada's total corn exports this year are already large
compared with volumes in most years of the past decade. They
could fall short, however, of 2012/13 shipments, which totaled
more than 600,000 tonnes due to brisk sales to the United States
after its severe drought.
Corn is abundant this year, with the U.S. Department of
Agriculture forecasting record global production.
Freight rates for moving crop across the Atlantic have been
competitive at times with rates from the Black Sea region,
giving Canadian sales to Europe an extra push, Cumberbatch said.
Greater corn supplies than the domestic market can handle have
also added fuel to exports, he said.
While corn, grown largely in Eastern Canada, is flowing
freely, crops like wheat, canola and barley grown in Western
Canada have been harder to move.
Record Western Canada crops and frigid weather have
overwhelmed railways trying to move them from the Prairies to
Pacific Coast ports, leaving country elevators and farm bins
Eastern crops generally don't travel as far to ports,
leaving them less reliant on railways than western wheat and
canola, Cumberbatch said. The St. Lawrence Seaway provides
access for eastern crops to the Atlantic Ocean, although the
Great Lakes are closed for shipping during winter.
Canadian corn also looks appealing to European buyers
because of problems in Ukraine.
Freezing weather causing ice on roads in Ukraine has delayed
deliveries of corn, also called maize, and prompted many buyers
to turn to rival exporters, including the United States and
"Ukrainian maize prices have risen a fair bit and French
maize is nowhere near competitive," said a European corn trader,
speaking on condition of anonymity.
"Buyers are going to look at whatever's cheapest. It's
possible 300,000 to 400,000 tonnes of Canadian maize will be
imported by the EU this season, coming in through Ireland,
Britain, Scandinavia, Rotterdam and maybe even Spain."
If Canadian farmers continue to grow big corn crops,
shipments to Europe may become more common, Cumberbatch said.
The Canadian transportation system is usually reliable, unlike
systems in some other countries, he said.
Typically, Canadian corn exports are lackluster. The notable
exception was 2010/11, when Canada shipped 1.3 million tonnes of
corn, including to destinations like Spain, due to lower
European production of coarse grains that year.