Fundamentally Speaking

Initial US Oat Rating Highest in Four Years

Joel Karlin
By  Joel Karlin , DTN Contributing Analyst
Chart by Joel Karlin, DTN Contributing Analyst

This week the USDA released its first national oats condition report for the 2024 season.

Using our usual ratings system, we weight the crop based on the percent in each category and assign that category a factor of 2 for very poor, 4 for poor, 6 for fair, 8 for good, and 10 for excellent and then sum the results.

This graph plots the first oat crop rating of each year from 1996 to 2024 along with the rating seen the last week of July when the crop is well advanced and close to being harvested on the left-hand axis.

On the right-hand axis is the percent that the final oat yield of each season deviated from the 25-year trend.

This year's initial oat rating is 712 and though that is below the 1996-2024 average of 719, it is the highest initial oat rating in four years and well above the year ago 688.

Interestingly the 2023 U.S. oat rating actually declined through much of the May-July period with a rating of 644 at the end of July 2023.

That was actually the second lowest end of July oat rating since 2006, yet the final yield last year was 68.6 bushels per acre, 2.9% above trend, the second highest in both categories since record U.S. oat yields were established in 2015.

Given that the bulk of oats are grown in the Upper Midwest and Northern Plains, the past few seasons in that part of the country have featured both cold and wet springs and persistent drought conditions over much of the region.

Texas, another large oat growing state, has been suffering from very dry or even drought conditions for the past three years.

This is the primary reason why U.S. oat yields have been below trend every year since 2016 with the exception of last year.

There is a long way to go as the correlation between the first oat rating and the percent that final yields deviate from trend is only 25% but that improves to 52% when using end of July crop ratings.

One of the reasons we were interested in the first oat rating of the year is what it may imply for corn when its first condition report is released this week but the correlation here is a rather low 18%.


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