New spring oat varieties with higher kernel contents are coming through and finding acceptance among millers for food consumption markets. The spring oat crop also has benefits in terms of black-grass suppression and could form part of a cover crop mixture prior to vining peas.
While winter oat varieties such as Mascani have tended to corner the market in the quality aspects processors look for, capturing this in spring oat varieties has proved trickier. However, a spring oat variety bred by Saaten Union, now an AHDB Candidate, having done two years in National List Trials, is gaining favour among millers.
Introducing Lion in the UK, Saaten Union UK technical manager Andrew Creasy says: “We work as closely with processors as we can. They are the ones who will say yes or no to a variety. So far, Quaker has said it will accept it.”
In National List trials results for 2018/19 Lion has a kernel content of 76 per cent. Current AHDB Recommended List 2020/21 ratings for kernel content for popular spring oat varieties are Canyon (74 per cent), WPB Elyann (78.1 per cent) and 76.8 per cent for WPB Isabel. Winter oat Mascani scores 76.7 per cent on the RL.
“With Lion we are as close as anybody to producing Mascani quality in a spring oat,” says Mr Creasy.
Lion’s parentage is Poseidon x Max. Its NL yield is 101.1 per cent, it scores 7 on resistance to lodging and it is early maturing at -2 days. The crop currently in the ground is being grown mostly for seed multiplication and the first farmers are likely to be drilling it in spring 2021. It is being sold and marketed by Elsoms, says Mr Creasy.
Within the Saaten Union portfolio he expects it to take some of Canyon’s market share. “It would be nice to think we could take some of what Elyann has done over the last few years. KWS has [WPB] Isabel coming along and the two new spring varieties to suit the quality market will be Lion and Isabel.”
Agrii has done trials work on spring oats in the past few seasons as part of its larger black-grass control strategy.
Work at its black-grass hub at Stow Longa, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire has shown that in strip trials where black-grass ear counts have been done, spring oats are arguably the most competitive spring cereal available, according to Skye van Heyzen, innovation crops manager at Agrii.
“We looked at spring oats, spring barley and spring wheat and which reduced black-grass ear count the most and it was spring oats. Oats are good at smothering the ground and dealing with adverse conditions better than other species.”
There may also be an allelopathic effect – where root exudates from oats adversely affect black-grass development, he says.
The conclusions of trials work done on black oats as a cover crop prior to growing vining peas could be applicable to spring oats planted in autumn as a cover crop.
Nine field trials were conducted by PGRO in Yorkshire’s East Riding, led by the organisation’s Dr Lea Herold over three years, covering the vining pea seasons of 2017, 2018 and 2019.
The species chosen for cover crop mixes were winter vetch, oil radish, black oats with berseem clover and phacelia with black oats.
Black oats proved themselves as the best cover crop before vining peas throughout these trials, says Dr Herold - and there is no reason why this would not also apply to spring oats.
“Mixes dominated by black oats have shown the most positive effects on soil structure, foot rot development and yield in vining peas.”
In the trials, black oat-based mixes resulted in better topsoil structure compared to no cover or competing species. Compaction was also moderately relieved with the use of black oats.
Dr Herold says: “When compared to conventional practice, employing a predominantly black oat based cover crop increased pea yield in five out of six trials where yield was measured. On three of those occasions, a yield increase of approximately 1.5 tonnes/hectare was achieved. Foot rot was subdued by black oat cover crops in a few trials and never exacerbated.”
For more information visit: www.pgro.org/downloads/FinalsummaryInvestigatingcovercropsinviningpearotations.pdf