Strong grain transportation continues to close the gap in delivery backlogs
Rail transport of grain continues to operate well. According to the Ag Transport Coalition update for week 35, across western Canada CN fulfilled 73% of the cars demanded in Canada, while CP fulfilled 94% of cars demanded. For Alberta, CN fulfilled 83% of cars demanded, while CP fulfilled 98% of cars demanded.
Despite the start of spring weather leading to seasonal road closures and weight restrictions on western Canadian roads, grain continues to steadily move from farms into country elevators. Deliveries to primary elevators remain above average, resulting in elevator stocks remaining high. Western Canadian country elevators were reported at 89% of capacity for week 35.
Above average rail transport continues to facilitate higher than average port unloads in both Vancouver and Prince Rupert. Western ports are now 368,000 tonnes behind unloads for week 35, as compared to the 1.37 million tonnes unloads were behind in week 28.
Vessel lineups remain near normal levels with lineups increasing from 31 ships in week 35 to 33 ships for week 36. It is important to note that vessel time in port is remaining higher than normal. Vancouver average time in port remains over 14.2 days for week 36, compared to 8.7 days last year. Prince Rupert vessel time in port is now 6.7 days in port, as compared to 11.8 days this time last year. Should vessels that remain in port too long, additional delay fees are charged which are eventually passed back to producers.
Elevators remain operating under COVID-19 protocols and grain deliveries appear to be occurring with minimal delays. The WGEA reported that an eastern Canada facility recently had their protocols tested due to a suspected COVID-19 case. The employee was sent home and the facility was closed to be sanitized. Once sanitation was completed, the local health authority approved the reopening of the facility. Total operational time lost was one day.