Do reindeer like oats?

In last week’s “Speaking of Oats…” (SOO) webinar, Steve Harrison pointed out that white tailed deer quite like grazing on oats, and are, in fact, very picky about the variety they choose! The video from this talk, which features Steve, Monica Mathias, and Liliane Wehrhahne speaking about the International Oat Nursery, will be uploaded soon.

Liliane and Monica have also submitted an article concerning their growing seasons. It can be found in the “Research Reports” section. You can also find an article from Fran Canales and other members of Elena Prat’s lab there. It discusses work that will set the stage for improving the adaptation of oat to Mediterranean growing conditions.

On January 21st, 2021, at 11 am EST, the next SOO webinar will feature Jean-Luc Jannink, Clay Birkett, and David Waring from the USDA-ARS and Cornell University. They will tell us about the new Breedbase version of the T3/Oat database, which contains unpublished phenotypic and genotypic data from field trials, as well as tools for mining those data. Data from the old POOL (Pedigree of Oat Lines) database is also now a part of T3/oat. Once registration opens, you can sign up to join the webinar here.

Also in January, the AHDB (Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board) Spring Oat Forum will be held virtually. The various groups comprising POGA, the Prairie Oat Growers Association, will also hold virtual meetings in the next few months. Please take a look at the calendar for more event information, and keep an eye on the PAG (Plant and Animal Genome) website as well – the current plan is to hold the meeting in May.

One of the other events to be held in January is the PFI (Practical Farmers of Iowa) AGM. They recently held a learning call featuring Darren Fehr discussing growing high test weight oats in Iowa.

Here are some links to recordings from other recent events:

Ian McNish, a student with Kevin Smith at the University of Minnesota, also defended his PhD recently. His defense seminar can be seen here. Congratulations on getting your PhD, Ian!

In other “people news”, the obituary for Vern Burrows has been updated with a tribute from the Canadian Celiac Association and a photo of his statue in Baicheng with a floral tribute.

Jennifer Mitchell Fetch was paid tribute by the Organic Federation of Canada. In this interview, she describes her work developing two oat cultivars for organic systems. You can listen to the interview or read the transcript.

One of the people that Jennifer (and many of the rest of us) worked with was Curt McCartney. He left Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada this year, and is now an associate professor in the Department of Plant Science at the University of Manitoba, where he will focus on breeding wheat.

You may recall that Robert Park was named a finalist in the running for the "2020 CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science". Well, he won. Congratulations, Robert!

Both Curt and Robert have contributed a great deal to research on oat rust, as have many others, including those at the USDA-ARS Cereal Disease Lab in St. Paul, MN. They recently released a report on “Estimated Small Grain Losses Due to Rust in 2020”.

Looking at the food side of the oat value chain, Keshun Liu is serving as guest editor of an upcoming issue of the MDPI journal “Foods”, titled “Barley and Oats: Chemistry, Health Benefits, Processing and Utilization”. An invitation is extended to all of you to make a contribution. The deadline for articles is August 31st, 2021.

Speaking of food, don’t forget that the newsletter has an “Oat Recipes” section! It’s too late to make my gluten-free fruitcake for this year, but there are other holiday recipes there. You can even keep your kids happy by making “Oat Playdough”. This recipe has also been posted in a new section of the newsletter called "For kids" (under the “Community” tab), along with some other child-focussed items that I’ve mentioned in the past.

As it turns out, reindeer do like oats, but for Santa’s, it helps to add a little sprinkle of magic. Make a big batch of this reindeer food and the other creatures in your garden will be happy as well!

Even though things are still not back to normal, I wish you all a happy and relaxed holiday season – Merry Christmas, and here’s to a better year in 2021!