Oat crop across Western Canada ‘not stellar’

CBOT December 2021 oats (candlesticks) with Bollinger bands (20,2). (Barchart)

MarketsFarm — As with most other crops on the Prairies, conditions are “not stellar” for oats, according to Shawna Mathieson, executive director for the Prairie Oat Growers Association.

POGA directors from across the region who participated in a recent board meeting had a rather grim outlook on the coming harvest, she said.

“Not a single one thought they would have an average crop this year. I’m hearing reports that most people are expecting to be down 25 to 50 per cent in yields this year” — which may lead to record-low ending stocks, she said.

The latter was cited in the July supply and demand estimates from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) this week. The department maintained its carryover forecast at 300,000 tonnes from the previous month out of a total supply of 4.21 million tonnes.

Also, AAFC chopped nearly 10 per cent off its June estimate for oat production, at 3.79 million tonnes. Compared to the 2020-21 crop, that would be a drop of just over 17 per cent.

Mathieson acknowledged there have yet to be any concrete estimates at this point in the year, but producers have taken a close look at their struggling crops. Any significant rain that was to come likely wouldn’t be of too much benefit, she said.

As for prices, she said Manitoba oats were at $4.50 per bushel for harvest delivery, while Saskatchewan was at about $4/bu., with Alberta somewhere in the middle.

“If yields are down 25 to 50 per cent, then that’s still going to be a big hit on farms, even if you do get $4.50-$5/bu.,” Mathieson said.

She pointed to Manitoba prices last year, from which growers received about $3.50/bu., and stressed the increase in prices wouldn’t make up for the sharp drop in yields.

— Glen Hallick reports for MarketsFarm from Winnipeg.

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