To your health and that of our plants!

The first International Day of Plant Health will be Thursday, May 12th! One of the events planned is a webinar hosted by the FAO.

One of the biggest factors affecting plant health, of course, is disease. It’s that time of year in the USA when the USDA-ARS Cereal Disease Lab is looking to collect observation reports and samples. The first report of the season is now out, and contains instructions for collecting and mailing samples. You can also join the Cereal Rust Survey mailing list. On April 6th, Amir Ibrahim sent word via that list that very little crown rust and no stem rust had been seen so far in Castroville, Texas.

There have been recent stories in the press concerning disease on oats in the UK and in Ireland.

As far as people’s health is concerned, May 16th is International Celiac (or Coeliac) Day. Oats can be consumed safely by most people with celiac disease, but, remember, they have to be pure!

At the "Speaking of Oats..." webinar on April 26th, Cark Maunsell and Emilie Gombert from Oat Cosmetics described how oats are fractionated for use in making products to keep skin healthy. Many thanks to them both for a very interesting presentation! The video recording of the webinar is now available. Please note that the session continued for a little while after the slide advertising the June webinar was shown, as I, um, had forgotten to ask one of my own questions.... More information on the topic can be found on the Oat Cosmetics website, or occasionally in the press.

Cark mentioned that they source a lot of their oats from Finland, where industry is very interested in developing new oat products and oat varieties (article in Finnish). One interesting product made from oats is xylitol, produced from the xylans in the hulls. Fazer’s new mill in Lahti, Finland, is now fully operational. Read more about that and how xylitol can be used here.

Work being done on oat food products at VTT in Finland is the subject of our next "Speaking of Oats..." webinar on Tuesday, June 14th, at 11:00 am EDT (UTC -4). Ulla Holopainen-Mantila and Pekka Lehtinen will be discussing the OatHow project and the use of oats as a multifunctional alternative protein source. Registration is now open!

Turning to genomics and breeding now, the journal "Plant Genetics and Genomics" has a call for papers out. The deadline for submission is June 30th. The AgBioData Consortium is asking that genomic, genetic, and breeding database stakeholders complete their 2022 survey. The last day to participate is this Monday, May 9th. If you’re considering attending the German Conference on Bioinformatics in Halle in September, the abstract submission deadline for talks has been extended until May 11.

I reported earlier that the new "oat transcriptome" track produced by PepsiCo and LaTrobe University for OT3098 v2 had been released and was available on GrainGenes. This work recently made the news in Australia.

That work and more will be discussed in Australia this October during the International Oat Conference, and it’s time to get those abstracts in! The latest update concerning the conference can be found here or on the "International Oat Conferences" page. Here’s a short video from Allan Rattey concerning the sowing of the field trials.

One thing to come out of the recent Monogram conference was a report titled "Celebrating & promoting progress towards gender equality in crop science". A new directory of women in crop science has also been created. If you would like to be on this list, please email with your details (First name, Last name, University/Institution, City, Country, Position, Website, Research Interest, and Email address). Women of note in crop science include Anne Osbourn, who was recently elected an International Member of the National Academy of Sciences (USA). Congratulations, Anne! Congratulations also to Lana Shaw, who was named as one of seven "Influential Women in Canadian Agriculture" for 2022.

A recent presentation by Liliane Wehrhahne (slides in Spanish) highlights some of the work being done by one of our female oat breeders, who were few in number until relatively recently.

If you would like to see how things are going for some of the other breeders, there are some field days coming up. Juan Arbelaez will host a few outreach events at the University of Illinois in May and June, and Alicia del Blanco will host a field day on May 17th, at UC Davis in California.

Information from Norwegian farmers regarding their production practices and how different oat varieties perform is summarized in this article by Karstein Brøndbo of Norsk Havre. Links to recent news items from around the world concerning trial results, oat production, and markets have been collected as "A few gleanings from the Web" in the "Community News" section.

On the food and beverage side, oat "milk" products are still in the news:

Finnish companies are also looking to enter the market in South Africa. This recipe for Rolled Pork Belly with Jungle Oats Granola Stuffing comes from South Africa, where Jungle Oats has been selling their products for many years. If you want a fancy dessert to go with that, try some Cranberry Cointreau Oatmeal! If you prefer your alcohol in a glass, legislation in Ireland is being changed to allow for oat-based whiskey.

If you’re a lousy cook or just need to prepare your breakfast ahead of time, you may want to watch this video (or, um, not!). On a more serious note, there is a lot of food waste these days, but the idea of turning "former foodstuffs" into valuable animal feed is being explored.

Oats can’t be used for everything, though, as you can see in these examples. Still, we take care of them so they can take care of us. Stay healthy, and keep your plants that way, too!