On the surface Stats Cans forecasted 18.1% increase in Canadian oat plantings looks impressive and certainly as you can see below improves substantially the supply outlook in 2019/20 (see attachment). However, there remain several major unknowns that could reduce the improved outlook.
First, the drought/dry this growing season has likely put a cap on yields in many major Western Canada oat regions. Rains over the past five days have certainly helped stem yield declines but questions remain as to the damage already done. To be certain oats are quite a hardy crop and can withstand dryness for extended periods.
The other factor is that some of the oat planting increase is possible to be cut for green feed as hay is in short supply this year due to the drought.
Just how many oat acres will be cut for feed is unknown. Each 1% reduction in seeded/harvested area results in a roughly 40,000 mt decrease in oat production. So, if seeded area is reduced by say 3%, we now have a 2019/20 oat balance sheet that is now very near the record low (end stocks) and a long way from the average.
A look at provincial oat plantings estimates points to a solid 25% increase in Saskatchewan, no surprise. Manitoba is up 8.3% with Alberta climbing 13.1% and BC down 9.7%.
In the east, Ontario plantings are forecast to rise by 25.8% with Quebec mostly unchanged. PEI’s increase is impressive but will have little impact on commercial oat markets.