Extraordinary times - with a hint of normalcy….

The last newsletter update brought the unfortunate news that the 11th International Oat Conference was being postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, many events have been cancelled outright, and others have been postponed. The 5th Genomic Selection Course, for example, will now be held in September instead of June.

Some events, such as Cereals in the UK, are being moved on-line for this year (10-11 June). Others, such as The Greatest Online Agricultural Show (May 2nd), have been created to fill the void left by agricultural shows being cancelled.

Even the Louisiana State U. wheat and oat day has gone virtual. Videos of the field tours will available on/after April 23rd.

Louisiana is on the “Puccinia pathway”, and, if you are in the USA, this is a reminder to send any observations and/or samples of rust to Oluseyi Fajolu at the Cereal Rust Lab in St. Paul. The instructions for submitting observations and samples can be found in the latest Cereal Rust Bulletin.

Central Canada is at the other end of the “Puccinia Pathway”, and we recently welcomed Kirby Nilsen to the fold as the new oat breeder for western Canada, replacing Jennifer Mitchell Fetch, who has retired. An article about Kirby was written for the Western Producer and can be found here.

Many more stories about the oat community in Canada can be found in the latest issue of the Prairie Oat Growers Association’s ‘Oat Scoop’ Newsletter. Unfortunately, it brings sad news, as Art Enns passed away in March. Art served with POGA in various capacities, and was instrumental in helping fund oat research in Canada. There is a lovely tribute to him in the Oat Scoop, and his obituary can be found here. Art was very community-oriented and gave back in many ways, including donating the proceeds from certain of his oat fields to the Manyinga Project in Zambia. Donations in Art's memory can be made through their website.

Speaking of community, Maria Scholten has a question for everyone: is there anyone breeding Black Oat (Avena strigosa) for human consumption? If you have an answer, please get in touch with Maria via OatMail (oatmail@graingenes.org) or through me (curator@oatnews.org).

The breeding community (in particular) may also wish to consider watching some of the webinars being held by DivSeek International. The one held in March (slides only, unfortunately) laid out the reasons to use DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers) for germplasm accessions (including breeding lines) and datasets. The one to be held on May 4th will discuss the role of UPOV in the development of new plant varieties.

An example of the use of DOIs was mentioned by IPK Gaterslaben on Twitter. Most of the information in my ‘Web Harvest’ articles comes from Twitter, and there have been a few gems since people went into lockdown because of the pandemic. Farmers are still busy and it’s oat planting season in many places. Com Twomey takes his life into his hands planting Isabel oats (video), but you can see why he enjoys doing it! (The original Isabel is pictured just below the video, by the way.) For those of you not able to work right now, you can enter this baking competition being held by Hamlyns of Scotland. Or, perhaps you’d like to take a crack at crocheting the lab…. You could also read the latest Web Harvest, which has an abundance of information and can be found in the “Community News” section.

I wish you all good health - Take Care!