VARIABLE QUALITY appears to be the main characteristic of this year‘s oats harvest, according to provisional results from the Home Grown Cereals Authority‘s Cereal Quality Survey.

It is the first year oats have been included in the survey, said Information Analyst Rupert Somerscales.

Although they are based on a much smaller sample size than the wheat and barley survey, the results are not insignificant given around 100,000ha of oats are grown in the UK, he said.

Specific weights and moisture contents were highest in northern regions at 54.9kg/hl and 14.4% respectively, the results showed.

In contrast, the survey found that southern and eastern areas had the driest crops, averaging 13.4%. These areas also produced the lowest specific weight averages at 52.6 and 53.6kg/hl.

“While statistically accurate, the far smaller number of samples in the sample population than for wheat or barley should be highlighted,” he said.

“Caution should be observed when drawing conclusions from the results.”

The HGCA analysed 585 samples of oats in 2004, compared to over 25,000 wheat and 11,000 samples of barley.

“For those producers and processors involved with oats the importance of grain quality for human consumption markets shares a similar importance as for milling wheat and malting barley.”

More detailed analysis of the oat survey, together with the final results for wheat and barley will be available by the end of the month.

For further information and full tables, including regional breakdowns, visit the HGCA website on www.hgca.com/data