Happy Year of the...Oat?!

Happy 2017, Happy Year of the Rooster, and Happy Year of the Oat, as well! “Common oat” has been declared the “Medicinal Plant of the Year” by the Study Group for the Historical Development of Medicinal Plant Science at Würzburg University, Germany. You can read all about it in the “Community News” section.

To finish off volume 53 of the “Research Reports” section, we have two more articles from Clare Saied, et al., regarding T3/Oat. Kudos to Clare for continuing her string of very useful articles! Who'll be first with an article for volume 54?

I’d also like to mention a new book that has just come out called “Oat: Methods and Protocols”, edited by Sebastian Gasperis. The five sections discuss cytological methods, in vitro cultures and genetic transformation, quality assessment, genomic studies, and proteomics methods. For those of you interested in history and the scientific method, take a look at this article by Joel Cohen and Igor Loskutov, called “Exploring the nature of science through courage and purpose: a case study of Nikolai Vavilov and plant biodiversity”.

Other presentations available include two from the recent Cropsphere conference in Saskatoon, one concerning oat prices by Kenric Exner of Viterra, and one concerning the production of oats for the gluten-free (GF) market by Mike Marshall of Avena Foods.

Speaking of “GF” oats, a plain-language article discussing whether oats are GF or not recently appeared in “The Suburban”. Another article discusses the GF oats available from Splendour Garden. There is now considerable interest in GF oats around the world.

In Finland, they are looking for “name protection” to identify oats grown in Finland, as they may have unique qualities (article in Finnish). People are always looking for new ways to use oats, and, also in Finland, you can now get an oat burger at the Hesburger chain (article in Finnish). The American company Grainful has also compiled a number of other ideas for using oats that you can try at home, from making pasta to making soap!

Tartan Ice is an ice cream company in Scotland, and they recently won an award for their Toasted Oats ice cream. A non-dairy oat “ice cream” is made by Canadian company Oat & Mill, and they recently won the Ontario Premier’s Award for their products.

If you need more recipes using oats, the Rowett Institute of the University of Aberdeen has produced a cookbook recently. At the University of Reading, they’re doing a study on the health benefits of oats. The Food and Nutrition Department is looking for people to “#devOAT themselves to a healthy life!” People can volunteer for the study by contacting them at devoat.study@reading.ac.uk.

In other university news, Julio Isidro Sanchez and Deniz Akdemir will be presenting a course on genomic selection at University College Dublin in June. For those of you who remember Allen van Deyzne, who worked on oat genomics at Cornell University in the mid 1990’s, he is now at UC Davis (mostly breeding peppers), and recently received the Public Plant Breeding award from the National Council of Commercial Plant Breeders. Congratulations, Allen!

Back to breeding oats, Jennifer Mitchell Fetch recently gave an interview ahead of her presentation at the 2017 Peace Agronomy Update, a conference held to discuss farming issues in Alberta and northeastern BC. Heading over to a place Jennifer knows well, take a look at this photo of a field of 'Magnum' oats growing in New Zealand! Does anyone know who bred that variety? The Pedigree of Oat Lines (POOL) database is missing that information.

Speaking of growing, Kathy Esvelt Klos brought a group of children with her to the Plant and Animal Genome XXV conference. The kids, from Holy Spirit Catholic School in Pocatello, ID, presented a poster titled “Growth Rate of Oats at Low Temperature”. What a wonderful opportunity for them to have had the experience not only of doing the research, but also of presenting it at a major conference!

Finally, I came across a music video that should help those of us starting to get fed up with winter conditions. The Oatly company sponsored this video of Good Harvest performing their song “Long Way Around” surrounded by lovely fields of oats!