Wheat disease sees Canadian farmers looking at oats

Winnipeg, Feb. 27 (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. in Saskatchewan. He said disease pressures in wheat and barley is behind much of the interest in planting oats.

“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.

He added that even when oats are infected, the fusarium is concentrated on the hulls, rather than the groats. As oats are de-hulled as they enter the mill, 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, Shiels described the current oats market as stable, with new crop oats and the spot market both trading at around C$3 per bushel in Yorkton.

He added that good demand was keeping values steady, 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 500,000 acres from the previous year.

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

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