CALGARY, ALBERTA, CANADA — Canadian Pacific (CP) on Aug. 17 announced that it moved 25.8 million tonnes of western Canadian grain and grain products, soybeans and other non-regulated principal field crops during the 2017-18 crop year, up 1% over the 2016-17 crop-year and 1% above its three-year average.

September 2017 was CP’s biggest-ever month for moving Canadian grain.

“On balance, the past year was a success, achieved by working closely with and listening to customers and supply-chain partners,” CP said. “CP stands ready to again safely and efficiently deliver during the 2018-2019 crop year.”

In its July 31 letter to Minister of Transport Marc Garneau, CP published a detailed plan to move this year’s crop. CP said it is closely watching crop forecasts for the railway’s service area and is in regular communication with customers and supply chain partners to validate forecasts for the upcoming crop size.

“Our agricultural shippers have needs that are unique within our book of business, and we believe an ongoing dialogue with those companies is essential to understanding and meeting their needs,” said Joan Hardy, CP’s vice-president of sales and marketing – grain and fertilizers. “Our plans for moving this year’s crop reflect that.”

CP’s current estimate of the western Canadian crop size, based on Statistics Canada data, is 70.8 million tonnes. When adding potential carry-in into the 2018-19 crop year production, the total crop to move is estimated to be 83.4 million tonnes, 5% larger than the previous five-year average. At the beginning of each crop year, there is limited visibility on the true size of the upcoming crop, which is truly a moving target. For example, the 2017-18 crop originally was forecasted at approximately 65 million tonnes but was actually closer to 71 MMT — a variation of nearly 10%.

Based on current forecasts, CP’s operating team plans to consistently spot 5,500 hopper cars for Canadian grain weekly through the fall, until the closure of the Port of Thunder Bay on the St. Lawrence Seaway. When the seaway closes, CP plans to supply approximately 4,000 cars per week.

CP said it continues to invest in resources to accommodate growing demand across its network. CP currently has more than 700 employees in training and by the end of summer will have added more than 100 remanufactured locomotives to its fleet. CP said it plans to spend more than $1.55 billion in capital investments in 2018, replacing depleted track assets and upgrading its network.

“CP has been moving grain for over a century, and today more than ever, we’re focused on driving the future of grain transportation for the benefit of the entire supply chain,” Hardy said.