by Mike Gallais, Director Procurement/GM Rowatt
Growing crops was one of the few things that were not affected by the COVID-19 virus. Farmers went out, planted, and harvested a crop just the same as they always have.
Now that freshly harvested crops are in the bin, however, we are seeing influencers in the markets and movement patterns that are different from other years. For example, some container lines from Canada are not committing to loading agricultural products to Europe. I have not seen this before. And some growers are holding onto their harvest, waiting for the markets to react positively before selling. At Avena, we will begin to see the effect of this in 2021, when we will start using the 2020 crop.
The 2020 growing season has had many variables. At seeding time, the Canadian Prairies were at very near ideal conditions. They went from that to bordering on a drought, followed by a few general rains in June that kept the crops moving along. July and August were a checkerboard of showers. Growers fortunate enough to be in one of the rain patterns went into harvest with an average to a bit better than average crop.
Soil moisture maps show how soil moisture was tapped out over the summer:
Left: Conditions of Surface Soil Moisture as of May 1, 2020. Right: Conditions of Surface Soil Moisture as of September 30, 2020.
©2019 Agriculture and Agroclimate Canada
Oats thrive on cool, wet weather. Some areas of the prairies received this type of weather and they had high yields and very plump oats. Other areas that did not receive the rains had average yields and a slightly lighter bushel weight. Still other areas missed several of the showers and grew sub-par oats that are not of milling quality.
Overall, we ended 2020 expanding our oat acreage by 6.5% over the 2019 crop year. This past summer in Canada we grew just over 3.4 million acres. With virtually the same yields as last year, total production was close to 4.5 million tonnes, an increase of 6.5% over 2019.
The 2020 oat crop is in a good position with adequate supply to meet the demands of the gluten free oat markets.
This was an ideal growing season for pea, lentil and chickpea crops. They were sown into ideal soil moisture conditions, germinated and were out of the ground in a very timely fashion. The lack of rain made sure the plants were all rooted very deep and had a very healthy start.
June and July brought showery weather. Since pulse crops do not like an over-abundance of moisture, this led to good yields and quality. Most of the province had a good to very good pulse crop production. We also had a very dry harvest period that enabled the farmers to take off their crops without any interruptions. This makes for very tight seed coats and again, good quality.
We planted 3.8 million acres, of which 800,000 were green peas. The peas were good quality. Depending on the export market, things will be tight for yellow peas. We had an average crop with good quality for green and red lentils. There is good demand for green and red lentils so the market has been strong and the price good.
Remember what your Momma Says; ”Eat your Peas.”