Genetics seen as key to oat success

Plant Research Ltd managing director Adrian Russell discusses the different areas of oats on...
Plant Research Ltd managing director Adrian Russell discusses the different areas of oats on display at the Oat Industry Group Field Day. PHOTO: BEN ANDREWS
A field day to discuss the future of oat growing was attended by dozens of crop farmers.

On Thursday, the New Zealand Oat Industry Group held the field day at Blair and Mel McKenzie’s farm, near Knapdale.

Plant Research Ltd managing director Adrian Russell said a trend from research was how to better deal with weather conditions.

A lot of the past season’s trial crops had been affected by weather, Mr Russell said.

"We hit a storm that came through a couple of days before.

"We actually came down to harvest and it was like [the plots] were pushed into the ground."

New genetics would be needed for crops to cope, he said.

As a consequence of the weather, this year’s crop trials were larger, he said.

At the Mckenzie farm there were five areas where several varieties of seed were shown and discussed.

"In area 1, we have some seed production strips of two of the potential new varieties that we are looking at."

That seed was experimental at this stage, he said.

The four other areas were also discussed.

This year they had about 500 different varieties across the country, Mr Russell said.

"The key thing is to have a pipeline of material continually coming through.

"We reject a lot.

"We keep the best."

For the future, they expected to look at things like drought and heat and cold tolerance.

"That could be a really valuable genetic resource for us in the future."

There was a need to breed varieties which could cope with the weather extremes.

They would make sure to make sure they were available for everyone in the future.

Chatton farmer and New Zealand Oat Industry Group chairman Graeme Gardyne said the trials were good.

"The trials won’t be harvested until March and the data won’t be released until June," Mr Gardyne said.

He hoped a new variety would get released from them, he said.

"The trials are looking good.

"I don’t think there will be any problems with it."

It was a successful day and a lot of positive feedback was received, he said.

About 70 people attended the day.

 - By Ben Andrews