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Designing management practices to enhance both yield and grain milling quality of Winter and Spring Oats

Sara Tudor, Teagasc Walsh Scholar, Aberystwyth University, Wales

Oats are the third most popular cereal crop grown in the UK and in Ireland, with the planted area and production gradually increasing yearly. Due to an increase in oat processing within the milling industry to meet demand of the rise in human consumption of oat products, it is of upmost importance that in addition to yield, growers must consider the quality of the grain to meet miller specifications. However, many factors contribute to the milling quality of oats including variety, environmental variations, physical and chemical composition, and quality characteristics. The goal of this project is to examine the effect of different nitrogen application rates on crop growth and development, yield components and quality characteristics of both winter and spring oat cultivars. Investigations to date show that for both winter and spring oats, there are treatment and varietal effect, often independent of one another on yield and quality components. While autumn sown oats produce a greater yield than spring sown oats, a similar response to N is observed with yield increasing with additional N before plateauing. Initial results also show similar responses to N on grain quality of winter and spring oats; specific weight tends to decrease with additional N, screenings increase but kernel content is more stable across treatments. However, understanding the relationship between yield components and grain quality is key, as N levels that result in high yield, do not necessarily deliver higher grain quality. This initial presentation will provide an overview of work completed and some insight on preliminary results compiled. Conclusions from this study will deliver best management practices to increase the competitiveness of oats with other cereals, minimizing environmental impact and maximizing the benefits for growers and the milling industry by achieving optimum grain yield and milling quality of oats.