Oat prices stabilize amid increased U.S. demand

Canadian oat prices, which declined close to half a dollar a bushel during harvest, are reported to have been steady in recent weeks due to low U.S. oat supplies.

“Since early harvest, oats have probably lost C30 to 40 cents a bushel, but they’ve held in relatively well recently,” said Ryan McKnight, a merchant for Linear Grain at Carman, Man. “One of the reasons is that oat supplies in the U.S. have dwindled, which is why we’re seeing these inverted futures markets and strong basis levels.”

“I’ve also been hearing that there are logistics issues getting product from Western Canada to the U.S.”

According to Prairie Ag Hotwire on Tuesday, delivered-to-elevator Saskatchewan oats are valued at $2.46-$2.51 per bushel, up from $2.39 per bushel a week earlier, but still down from $2.79 per a bushel a month earlier.

However, McKnight said, there is still a possibility oats could see further losses, depending what happens to the value of corn.

“I’m not sure what percentage of the corn harvest is done, but if we see pressure on the corn futures, we’ll possibly see some spillover pressure into oats,” he said. “There could be some more downside in the near term.”

According to Saskatchewan Agriculture’s Oct. 10 crop progress report, 77 per cent of the oat crop has been combined, seven per cent is ready to be combined, 11 per cent has been swathed, three per cent is still standing, and two per cent is greenfeed.

Statistics Canada has the 2013-14 crop producing 3.163 million tonnes of oats, the largest since the 4.273 million-tonne crop in 2008-09.

In terms of yields, McKnight said he’s been hearing good news from crops across the Prairies, but noted there could be some quality concerns.

“Yields are above average,” he said. “There are still some oats out there, so quality will definitely be questionable on that stuff.”

“However, for the most part, oat quality is good.”

— Brandon Logan writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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