AS a newcomer to oat-growing, David Williams cannot wait to get his hands on a copy of Richard Lavericks guide.
"I wish it had been available when I decided to follow the advice of some of my neighbours and try 3.3ha – 8 acres – of Gerald last September," he said after looking through the findings of the research review. "If it had I would certainly have checked the 1000-grain weight of the seed rather than just following the recommendation of the supplier."
When Mr Laverick inspected his crop the verdict was that the correct rate had been used. But next season, seeds will be weighed.
Mr Williams, who farms 242ha (600 acres) at Walton in Powys, also grows wheat, barley and seed potatoes, but had no experience of new higher yielding, stiffer strawed oat varieties. Favourable reports from other farmers tempted him to try a small area, but he found it difficult to get clear advice on managing the crop.
When he saw the tables for calculating nitrogen application rates he was able to work out how much he could reduce spring nitrogen to allow for the deep litter poultry muck dressing he applied to the seed-bed.
He was impressed by details on the yield benefit of prompt mildew control, and the warning about crown rust, which he had never seen. The clear guidance on growth regulator usage he will apply this year.
With most of his oats to be sold off the farm, the tips on achieving the specific weight and screenings specifications set by millers and compounders should be particularly useful, he believes.
"I think the HGCA has spent its money well on this work, which will give farmers a good, practical, common sense guide to oat growing."
His only reservation is that it will contain no research data on the newest varieties, so he hopes funding will be found to update the information periodically.
OAT GROWING GUIDE
• Base seed rate on 1000 grain weight.
• September sowing gives better yield and specific weight, and reduces frost lift.
• On fertile sites, or well tillered crops, apply nitrogen as a single dressing.
• Optimum timing for chlormequat is GS32, full rate application + wetter.
• Early mildew control is cost-effective.
AN application for funds to explore the development of new oat based food and industrial products has been backed by the HGCAs research committee.
If accepted by the full authority, the project will dovetail neatly with other studies being conducted by the applicant OATEC, a market orientated partnership of public and private institutions.
The new work aims to evaluate the potential market for fractionalised oat products, to appraise alternative processing systems and identify the best, and to assess the feasibility of a processing plant.
Establishing this in the Marches on the England/Wales border, which is ideally suited to producing winter oats, could create 100 new jobs, and give many farmers the chance to grow a premium earning crop. The idea has attracted EU Objective 5b funding.
Strong interest already exists in using oat starch, oil and proteins in the cosmetics industry, paper manufacturing, and the health food market. OATEC partners believe that if the range of products could be expanded, the £9-12m of venture capital needed to build a fractionation plant would be found.n
Extra funds explore potential