Glacier FarmMedia COVID-19 & the Farm

Wheat disease risk sees farmers looking to oats

(Doug Wilson photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

CNS Canada — Canadian farmers are showing an increased interest in seeding oats this spring, despite a lack of activity from a pricing standpoint, as quality concerns in wheat and barley have growers looking to other cereals.

“We are seeing a huge influx of acres into oats,” said Scott Shiels, grain procurement merchant with Grain Millers Canada Corp. at Yorkton, Sask.

Disease pressures in wheat and barley were behind much of the interest in seeding oats, he said.

“We have more on the books than we’ve ever had for this time of year,” said Shiels.

Fusarium was a major problem in Canada’s cereal crops in 2016, but oats are less susceptible to the fungal disease, said Shiels.

Even when oats are infected, the fusarium is concentrated on the hulls, rather than the groats, he added. Oats are dehulled as they enter the mill, so testing has shown minimal fusarium in oat groats.

“We haven’t had to reject any (oats) this year because of fusarium,” said Shiels.

From a pricing standpoint, he described the current oats market as stable, with new-crop oats and the spot market both trading at around $3 per bushel in Yorkton.

Good demand was keeping values steady, he added, despite the expected increase in acres.

Canadian farmers seeded 2.8 million acres of oats in 2016, according to Statistics Canada data. That was down by 500,000 acres from the previous year.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada now forecasts seeded oats area in 2017 at three million acres.

— Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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