Survey backs oat breeding program
A recent survey of farmers suggests dual-purpose oats play a critical role on many of the State’s farms.
The results indicate that ongoing industry funding for breeding programs of dual-purpose oats would be money well spent.
A survey carried out in June-July 2005 found dual-purpose oats had major advantages for mixed farming operations because they could be sown early in autumn, grazed through the winter and allowed to recover a grain or hay crop during the spring.
The survey was carried out by Department of Primary Industries’ agronomists with the aim of showcasing the benefits and encouraging investment into the DPI’s breeding program based at Temora.
Temora research agronomist Glenn Roberts said a total of 244 completed surveys provided valuable insight into the oat industry throughout NSW.
He said it was clear from the survey that dual-purpose oats continued to be widely grown on the tablelands, slopes and plains where they had a key role in livestock production while grain-only oats had a far less important role.
“At present winter wheats are most widely grown on the slopes but are less popular on the tablelands and plains,” Mr Roberts said.
“While farmers prefer to retain their own seed over many years they accept new dual-purpose oat varieties when they become available as indicated by the adoption of Yiddah.
“The survey also showed that suitability for early sowing, forage production and grain yield were the most highly valued traits in dual-purpose oats.”
When farmers were asked to nominate which cereals they used for dual-purpose grazing and grain in their farming system, oats and wheat were the major dual-purpose crops with barley and triticale being relatively minor.
When analysed across zones, oats were nominated as being widely grown in all zones with 97 per cent tablelands, 83pc slopes and 77pc plains growers indicating they were grown.
Wheat was less widely grown than oats as a dual-purpose crop in all zones.
Farmers were also asked if they grew grain-only oats. The results clearly show that in NSW dual-purpose oats are at least three times as widely grown as grain-only oats.
When respondents were asked to rate the value of dual-purpose oat crops, forage was rated as essential or important by 93pc, hay production as essential or important by 63pc, grain recovery as essential or important by 85pc and the contribution to the rotation as essential or important by 56pc.
As expected there was a clear distinction between zones for the adopted varieties with tablelands growers predominantly growing Nile or Blackbutt - varieties suitable for very early sowing and very late maturity to allow the maximum length of grazing.
Slopes growers grew Eurabbie, Bimbil, Yarran, Yiddah, Coolabah and Cooba - varieties with earlier maturity and superior grain quality.
Plains growers grew Yarran, Coolabah, Yiddah and Graza50 – a late maturing variety grown for late forage.
The other varieties are early maturing and suited to the shorter season of the NSW plains zone.
This story appears Agriculture Today.