Transport woes send oats off the rails

Oat futures for the March contract topped $5 per bushel in Chicago Feb. 25.

Meanwhile, thanks to the rail transportation logjam in Western Canada, elevators in Saskatchewan were bidding around $2 per bu. for oats on the same day.

Willie Zuchkan, a grower from Foam Lake, Sask., said bids ranged from $1.90 per bu. to $2.10.

Randy Strychar, an oat industry analyst, said it’s difficult to attract an oat bid in Saskatchewan.

“Nobody wants to buy oats be-cause they can’t ship the oats,” he said. “You can call up a grain company, a Richardson, a P&H, a Cargill … any of them. They will not offer oats…. Unless you have rail cars, unless you have predictable supply of rail cars, we don’t have an oat market (right now).”

The March oat contract in Chicago was trading at $3.50 per bu. at the beginning of the year and has jumped approximately $1.50 in eight weeks.

In comparison, corn futures began the year at $4.25 per bu. and was trading around $4.55 per bu. near the end of February.

“I’m not a rail expert but somebody better start building rail lines,” said Strychar. “We better start talking to Gene Roddenberry (of Star Trek) because we’re going to need a transporter to get this grain from the country to the port.”

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