Specific weight for oats under scrutiny

9 February 2001

Specific weight for oats under scrutiny

SPECIFIC weight as an intake quality test for oats has been thrown into question by research from scientists at Irish research institute Teagasc and Queens University Belfast.

"We are raising questions as to the suitability of hectolitre weight as a quantity parameter for grain," says Teagascs Roy Browne. "Kernel content is the single most important quality factor and then hullability as it affects the milling efficiency."

A new test devised by the team mimics the de-hulling stage of the oat milling process means hullability and kernel content can now be determined in a matter of minutes. Previously, kernel content could only be determined by laborious hand testing, which was too slow for intake procedures, says Mr Browne.

"Grain of good kernel content and hullability could be wrongly rejected on the basis of hectolitre weight."

Equally, plant breeders have promoted varieties on the basis of specific weight that turned out to be unsuitable for milling.

"A number of years ago Mirabel got through into the (Irish) recommended list and it turned out to be totally unmillable. Our test would have prevented that."

In total, the test takes about five minutes to perform on a representative sample, so mill intake use would be possible. However, its main use should be by plant breeders to screen varieties at the development stage, he concludes. &#42

Is specific weight the right quality test for oats? asks Roy Browne.

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