In the current high price environment for WA cereals including feed barley, more than 70 growers, breeders, researchers, agronomists, oaten grain and hay processors, oat traders and container exporters participated in two recent Grains Industry Association of WA (GIWA) Oat Council meetings.
The first was held in Narrogin in September with the second in Perth last month.
GIWA Oat Council chair and Narrogin oat grower Ash Wiese said that increasingly Western Australian oats have a reputational point of difference in Asian markets for their brightness, plumpness, cleanliness and food safety standards, so the demand outlook for oats was positive with consensus at the October meeting that demand was growing by approximately 5-10 per cent per annum
“With WA annual production estimates ranging between 550,000 and 750,000 tonnes, we have to remember that oats is a niche product globally with only one per cent of the global grains market,” Mr Wiese said.
“For traditional oat growers, a 10pc increase in demand per annum is a good signal, but be conservative.
“As a niche market it is so easy to oversupply, and as we’ve seen in recent years, oat pricing can dramatically fall in years of oversupply.
“It means if you are planting 10 paddocks to oats in your program for 2019 you could add one more paddock.”
The Council also discussed the distorting price effect this season of the unfortunate drought conditions on the east coast and the agronomic pressure on oats as opposed to barley.
GIWA Oat Council member, Facey Group grower member and Planfarm agronomist Hilary Wittwer, said if a good knockdown was achieved in an early break with oats, this would be good for oat production in 2019.
“It depends how our agronomic package works with a dry start,” Ms Wittwer said.
“Across the board it’s going to be a dirty start to the season next year with a significant legacy weed burden from this year.
“Preferred contracts and early price signals are a great way to reward the consistent or traditional oat growers.”
Oat receival standards were also up for discussion, with the impending changes to WA Oat2 screenings and groat count for the 2019/2020 harvest as a result of processors and industry feedback into the GIWA Standards Review 2018.
In the context of standards changes, DPIRD National Oat Agronomy research leader Georgie Troup said the tightening of standards for 2019/20 meant there was a cliff face outside the Oat2 specifications.
“It’s imperative that oat growers choose a variety at the higher end of the weight spectrum,” Ms Troup said.
“You have to harvest in the heat of the day and take sufficient harvest operator care that you are not thrashing the oats so hard you will increase the groat count.”
The GIWA Oat Council is responsible for oat milling accreditation of new varieties in WA and will be conducting a milling trial for new SARDI oat variety 06204-16 in the first quarter of 2019.