Breeding oats for milling, feed and possible new food and industrial markets


Cereals & Oilseeds
Project code:
01 October 2000 - 31 March 2004
AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds.
AHDB sector cost:
£185,208 from HGCA (project no. 2383).
Project leader:
J Valentine, A Cowan, D Jones, B Middleton, R Clothier and T Davies, IGER, Aberystwyth Research Centre, Plas Gogerddan, Aberystwyth, Dyfed, SY23 3EB



About this project


The overall aim of the project was to enhance the value of oats to cereal growers and meet the needs of end-users through the development of oat germplasm and genetic stocks leading to new varieties. Oats are a valuable crop due to their unique properties. As a result of discussions, we defined clear industry pull for genetic improvement for diverse industries including feed for poultry, oat milling, breakfast cereal manufacturing, functional foods and feeding to pigs and ruminants. Common requirements for all these varied end-users are improvements in agronomic characteristics, e.g. grain yield, increased resistance to lodging and greater pest and disease resistance.

During the three full seasons covered by this project (October 2000 to March 2004), over 644 potential varieties were assessed for various agronomic and quality characters.

For human consumption, two superior genotypes were selected. These were 96-21Cn7, as an extremely lodging resistant oat with thick straw (from an unadapted Pennsylvania line) and 96-41Cn 3 as a stiff mildew resistant line from initial trialling to entry to 2004 NL trials.

For naked oats for poultry production, excellent progress was made in combining high yield and high oil content. Both are necessary for the crop to be economically acceptable and to enter least cost formulated poultry diets. Preliminary results obtained in 2003 showed 95-240Cn3/1/1 to yield 4.2% more than Grafton with oil content 30% above Grafton. The line was entered into 2004 NL trials. The advances made are in sharp contrast to selection for high protein in the 1980's which proved unachievable.

From earlier work that has come to fruition, Hendon, the first dwarf naked oat, and Buffalo, the first dwarf husked oat, entered the CEL Recommended List in 2003. The incorporation of dwarfness was a major step forward, since it confers resistance to lodging and the production of PGR-free grain. For naked oats, it allows late targeted application of N fertiliser to produce higher yields of high protein/energy grain for feeding to monogastrics. The high yielding conventional height naked oat, Expression, and Mascani, a high quality milling oat, entered the Recommended List for 2004. These new varieties, like previous varieties such as Gerald (entered 1993 on RL and won the NIAB Cereals Cup in 2003), Grafton (2000), Kingfisher, Viscount (both 1999) and Lexicon (1997), developed through previous HGCA projects, look highly likely to be profitably embraced by farmers and end-users.

The benefits for levy payers are clear in terms of improved economic competitiveness and enhanced end use characteristics of the lines in terms of oats for feeding to poultry and for milling. The work will be taken forward in a SAL Link project - OatLink- involving sponsorship from Defra and SEERAD and cash and in-kind contributions from SW Seed, BOBMA, HGCA, Bernard Matthews, British United Turkeys, the British Poultry Association, Svalof-Weibull, GB Seeds, Elm Farm Research Centre and Oat Services.