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Prairie Oat Yields Could be Halved

Prairie oat yields could be down by as much as half this year and there is little chance the crop will improve even with better rainfall.

Shawna Mathieson, executive director of the Prairie Oat Growers Association (POGA), said organization directors from across the region who participated in a recent board meeting were grim about the upcoming harvest. “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% in yields this year.”

In its July supply-demand estimates, released on Tuesday, Agriculture Canada pegged this year’s Canadian oat crop at 3.794 million tonnes, down from the June estimate of 4.21 million and 17% below a year earlier. However, the Ag Canada estimates do not yet fully reflect the losses due to drought and searing heat across Western Canada this year. Oat seeded and harvested area were both revised lower from last month, while the average expected yield was trimmed to 89.2 bu/acre, down from 93.1 bu last month and 91.2 bu a year earlier.

In comparison, the USDA is projecting 2021 American oat production for this year at just under 600,000 tonnes, down 36.7% from last year, mainly due to the heat and drought impacting the key northern Plains production region. The average oat yield in North Dakota is estimated at 47 bu/acre this year, a drop of 31 bu or 39.7% from 2020. That would be the lowest since 2006 when the state average tumbled to just 41 bu/acre.

Ag Canada is currently projecting 2021-22 Canadian oat ending stocks at 300,000 tonnes, down 100,000 from the June estimate and below 426,000 a year earlier, although that forecast is still likely too high as well.

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

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

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