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Oat, Barley Production Lowest in 14 Years

Canadian farmers are poised to harvest the smallest national oat and barley crops in at least 14 years in the wake of Prairie drought.

A Statistics Canada crop production report on Monday pegged this year’s Canadian barley crop at 7.83 million tonnes, while oat production was forecast at 3.07 million. If accurate, barley production would be down 27% from last year’s crop of 10.74 million and oats down almost 33% from 4.57 million. Both crops would be the smallest since 7.11 million and 2.97 million, respectively, in 2007.

Pre-report trade estimates had the barley crop between 6.5 million and 10.1 million tonnes, and oats between 2.5 million and 3.3 million. In its monthly supply-demand update released last week, Agriculture Canada put the crops at 7.45 million and 2.68 million.

All of the expected decline in barley output is due to a lower average yield, down to 48.1 bu/acre from 71.1 bu in 2020 and potentially the lowest since 41.5 bu in the drought year of 2002.

Based on a higher planted area estimate, barley harvested area is seen up 7.8% from last year at 7.5 million acres. However, coarse resolution-based modelling – upon which today’s production estimates are based - relies on historical averages for harvested area, meaning the number of barley acres that are actually combined will likely be lower yet due to abandonment and early cutting for greenfeed. Final harvested area estimates will not be released by StatsCan until Dec. 3.

The average oat yield is seen at 71.4 bu/acre, compared to 91.3 bu last year and the lowest since 2007 when farmers reaped just 68 bu. Oat harvested area is expected down almost 15% from last year to 2.8 million acres, although, as is the case with barley, some crops are not likely to be combined at all, meaning more downside in the final production estimate.

Saskatchewan barley production is expected at 3.38 million tonnes, down roughly 1 million tonnes on the year, while oat output is projected at 1.47 million tonnes versus 2.29 million in 2020. At 45.1 bu/acre, the average expected barley yield in the province is down from 68.7 bu last year, while the average oat yield is seen down to 67.3 bu from 91.4 bu.

Barley production in Alberta is estimated at 3.54 million tonnes, versus 5.28 million last year. The provincial oat crop is seen at 470,000 tonnes, down from 802,000 in 2020. The average Alberta barley and oat yields are forecast at 48.3 bu and 63.2 bu/acre, respectively, compared to 74 and 85.9 bu a year ago.

As for Manitoba, oat production is projected to fall to 773,9000 tonne from 1.11 million last year, while barley declines to 511,400 tonnes from 686,400. The average barley yield is seen at 62.7 bu/acre, versus 79.9 bu last year, and the average oat yield at 86.9 bu/acre compared to 111.4 bu in 2020.

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