Holding oats
Private forecasts take issue with A.A.F.C. projection of a larger oats area in 2018.

NAPLES, FLA. — A Canadian oats grower and a market analyst addressing members of the North American Millers’ Association meeting in Naples on March 25 forecast area planted to oats in Canada for harvest this year to decline from 2017, taking issue with the projection published by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada just a few days earlier.

A.A.F.C. on March 22 forecast that Canadian growers would plant 1,325,000 hectares to oats this spring, up about 2% from 1,295,000 hectares in 2017. The ministry’s forecast was attributed to “good U.S. oats futures levels.”

But Randy Strychar, president, Ag Commodity Research, North Vancouver, B.C., Canada, pointed out 975,000 tonnes of oats will be carried over into the 2018-19 crop year compared with a 2017-18 carry-in of 703,000 tonnes. The huge supply has and will continue to exert tremendous pressure on oat prices and may encourage growers to plant less oats this year in favor of other crops. Mr. Strychar forecast Canadian oats plantings to decline 2% to 5% from 2017.

Shawna Mathieson, a Saskatchewan oats grower and executive director, Prairie Oat Growers Association, forecast Canadian oats plantings this spring to be down 5.5% from 2017. Breaking down plantings prospects by province, Ms. Mathieson said, based on conversations with several growers, oats plantings may decline 19% in Alberta and 16% in Saskatchewan. She said Manitoba planted area may increase 14% from 2017, but the increase in that province will be more than offset by area losses in the other two major oats-producing provinces.