26 April 1996

Naked oats output on

brink of breakthrough

More naked oat growers are being sought for next season as demand for the grain increases. Robert Harris reports on this growing crop

A NEW, higher yielding variety and a revised contract will help boost the appeal of naked oats to UK growers, predicts the Superioat company. Substantial premiums over other cereals will help further, it hopes.

Naked oats were first launched commercially in 1989. Though uptake has not been spectacular – this years tonnage is predicted to hit 25,000t – the company believes it is near a breakthrough.

Richard Mason, Superioat director, expects half as much output again next season. "The crop is now accepted and markets have been developed. We need more production to meet demand."

Winter variety

The company is pinning its hopes on new winter naked oat Krypton. It has a typical treated yield of 6.1t/ha (2.5t/acre), 10% higher than standard variety Kynon, says John Valentine, head of cereal breeding at the Welsh Plant Breeding Station.

It is also easier to grow, he adds. "It has better resistance to mildew and crown rust and is stiffer than Peniarth."

Contract terms have been simplified to benefit growers, says consultant Cark Maunsell. "Previous contracts were too complicated. Farmers perceived them as being based on claims rather than bonuses and too often expectations were not met."

A 50% premium over an average of the feed barley and feed wheat price for the week of movement will be paid for samples meeting the new contract terms. Up to 5% husk is now acceptable without penalty, compared with the old 2% limit. And there is now no screenings clause. Admixture, moisture content and specific weight requirements remain unchanged at 2%, 14% and 65kg/hl, respectively.

The contract is subject to movement between Aug 1 and May 30 at buyers call. A harvest movement contract is also available at 30% above base price, says Mr Maunsell. A straw contract pays £30/t depending on location.