CWB moves near-record wheat shipments through Churchill

by World Grain Staff
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WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, CANADA — The Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) announced on Nov. 3 that it shipped 600,000 tonnes of western Canadian wheat through the Port of Churchill this season, the second highest volume in more than 30 years.

"2010 was an exceptional year for Churchill, and that's good news for farmers," said CWB President and Chief Executive Officer Ian White. "Exporting Prairie wheat through Churchill saves farmers money through reduced transportation costs."

CWB said that in total, 20 ocean vessels loaded wheat or durum at Churchill this season, bound for Europe, Africa and the Americas. The last ship to load, the Nikator, left the port Nov. 2 with 26,000 tonnes of spring wheat en route to West Africa. The shipping season began July 29, when the Federal Danube arrived to take on durum bound for Europe.

Churchill, which is located on Hudson Bay about 1,000 kilometers north of Winnipeg, is Canada’s only Arctic port. The port has a limited shipping season during its ice-free period that generally runs from the end of July to early November.

In 2007, the CWB shipped 621,000 tonnes of wheat and durum through Churchill. That remains the largest amount of wheat through the port since 1977, when 710,000 tonnes of wheat (and 19,000 tonnes of barley) were shipped, mainly to the former Soviet Union. Last year, 529,000 tonnes of wheat moved through the port.

This year, the vast majority of shipments through Churchill were Prairie wheat and durum. A total of 43,000 tonnes of canola and 12,000 tonnes of peas also shipped from the Manitoba port.

Grain shipped through the port is drawn primarily from northern Saskatchewan and northern Manitoba. The CWB's Churchill Storage Program pays farmers in these regions to store grain on-farm for delivery through the northern port. The Churchill season begins well before new crop is harvested each summer, and relies on grain stored from the prior year.

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