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Oat, Barley Ending Stocks Reduced from August

Canadian oat ending stocks are once again poised to plumb the depths of the 2021-22 drought year. 

In its September supply-demand update released Monday, Agriculture Canada reduced its 2023-24 oat ending stocks forecast by 100,000 tonnes from August to just 350,000 tonnes. If accurate, that would be down sharply from 1.27 million just a year earlier and put ending stocks for this year just slightly above the 2021-22 level of 333,000 tonnes, when widespread Prairie drought slashed the yield of many crops by as much as one-third. 

The drop in this month’s oat ending stocks forecast reflects Statistics Canada’s Sept. 14 crop production report which lowered expected 2023 national oat production to just 2.43 million tonnes, compared to Ag Canada’s August estimate of 2.71 million and 5.22 million the previous year. Amid the smaller crop, Ag Canada reduced its 2023-24 oat export forecast by 100,000 tonnes from last month to 2.45 million and trimmed expected domestic use as well, although not enough to keep ending stocks from declining month-over-month. 

Oat prices shot to record highs in the 2021-22 drought year, spurring a major rebound in production the following year. But with prices falling hard back to earth due to the heavier supply, producers cut back acres in 2023. Dryness further reduced yield potential, leading to a crop that is now forecast about 40% below the five-year average. 

With the tighter supply, Ag Canada is forecasting a 2023-24 season average oat price of $370/tonne, unchanged from August but up from $346 a year earlier. In 2021-22, the average oat price reached $565. 

Meanwhile, 2023-24 barley ending stocks have been reduced this month as well. The supply-demand update for this month pegged stocks at 550,000 tonnes, down from 700,000 in August and 709,000 the previous year but still slightly above 543,000 in 2021-22. 

As with oats, the drop in barley stocks from last month reflects the Sept. 14 crop production report which cut expected output for this year to 7.84 million tonnes from Ag Canada’s August estimate of 9.22 million tonnes. With a smaller crop, Ag Canada trimmed its export forecast to 2.93 million tonnes from 3.33 million in August, while projected domestic use was dropped to 5.27 million tonnes from 5.94 million. 

At $350/tonne, the average expected 2023-24 barley price was unchanged from last month but down from $417 a year earlier and $432 in 2021-22. 

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