Farmers in the Canadian Prairies are set to harvest bigger wheat and oat crops this year as consumers eat more grain amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Wheat output may climb to 35.7 million metric tons, up 10 per cent from 2019 to the highest in seven years, Statistics Canada said Monday in a report. Production of durum wheat, milled into semolina flour for pasta, probably will jump 39 per cent with oats up 6.1 per cent.

Farmers boosted planting for grain to take advantage of higher prices after wet weather crimped sowing in 2019. Lockdowns during the COVID-19 outbreak spurred people to prepare more meals at home, which helped boost sales of pasta, flour and oats.

“There’s tremendous demand for oats. Everyone is eating porridge for breakfast,” Neil Townsend, chief market analyst at FarmLink in Winnipeg, Manitoba, said in a telephone interview. “The market has been very strong.”

The canola harvest may be 19.4 million tons. Analysts in a Bloomberg survey expected 20.2 million.

Wheat is Canada’s biggest crop, followed by canola. Farmers pared planting of the oilseed because of a prolonged trade spat with China.

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