Canada oats
Canadian farmers were expected to increase acres planted to oats by 12% to 13% from 2016.

MARCO ISLAND, FLA. – On the heels of the “oats harvest from hell,” Canadian farmers were expected to increase acres planted to oats by 12% to 13% from 2016, said Randy Strychar, president, Ag Commodity Research, North Vancouver, B.C., and Shawna Mathieson, executive director, Prairie Oat Growers Association, Morris, Man. Mr. Strychar and Ms. Mathieson provided their forecasts during the North American Millers’ Association spring conference on Marco Island on March 12.

The increase in oat acres was expected mostly to come at the expense of spring wheat. Both Mr. Strychar, who forecast a 13% increase in acres, and Ms. Mathieson, who forecast a 12% increase, gave percentages well above projections of Statistics Canada, which suggested a 6% to 7% increase in oats plantings. Statistics Canada indicated area planted to oats in 2016 totaled 2,100,000 acres.

Randy Strychar, president, Ag Commodity Research
Randy Strychar, president of Ag Commodity Research

Mr. Strychar said considerable uncertainty remained about just how many oats acres were “lost” because of snow during harvest. Statistics Canada suggested limited loss, perhaps 2% of forecast harvested acres, but provincial agriculture ministries indicated more severe losses pointing to estimates of many acres still left to be harvested in the spring. The provincial offices indicated 40% of Alberta oats area and 25% of Saskatchewan oats area remained to be harvested. Many of these acres may be harvested in the spring, but quality without doubt will be an issue.

Mr. Strychar said the story of the 2016 harvest won’t find its conclusion until late summer or early fall this year. He noted while the market wasn’t behaving as if it lost 20% of production, it also unmistakably exhibited concern. He pointed out the Midwest U.S. cash oats basis recently traded to near record highs and currently was trading well above average levels, U.S. oat futures have been trading at an inverse, and Western Canadian cash oats prices remained firm versus the cash spring wheat market.