Winter Oat Research and Breeding


R. D. Barnett1, A. R. Blount2, P. L. Pfahler3, J. W. Johnson4, B. M. Cunfer5, and G. D. Buntin6


1Univ. of Fla,.North Florida REC - Quincy, 155 Research Rd, Quincy, FL 32351

2Univ. of Fla,.North Florida REC - Marianna, 3925 Highway 71, Marianna, FL 32446

3Univ. of  Fla., Dep. of Agronomy, PO Box 110500, Gainesville, FL 32351-0500

4Univ. of Ga., Dep. of Crop and Soil Sciences, Griffin, GA  30223

5Univ. of Ga., Dep. of Plant Pathology, Griffin, GA  30223

6Univ. of Ga., Dep. of Entomology, Univ. of Ga., Griffin, GA  30223.



The University of Florida and the University of Georgia combined their small grain breeding programs into a single regional project in the early 1990s.  Personnel include R. D. Barnett, Breeder, University of Florida; A. R. Blount, Forage Agronomist, University of Florida; P. L. Pfahler, Genetics, University of Florida; Jerry W. Johnson, Breeder, University of  Georgia; Barry Cunfer, Plant Pathology, University of Georgia; and David Buntin, Entomology, University of Georgia.  Yield Trials are uniform, multiple location across states.  All releases are joint with royalties being shared.  Leadership for the oat, rye and triticale breeding programs is provided by Barnett at Quincy, FL and leadership for the wheat and barley breeding programs is provided by Johnson at Griffin, GA.


‘Horizon 314’ was released in 2000.  It is a full season winter oat that has considerable potential for both grain and forage production in the South.  In comparison to Chapman (released in 1997), it is higher yielding, has a heavier test weight, and is three to six days later in heading, and four inches taller in height. It has good winter hardiness, good crown rust resistance, tillers well, and has a dark green plant color.  It is well suited for a winter grazing crop for beef or dairy producers, will make an excellent grain, hay or silage crop, and is excellent for wildlife plots. At heading, the flag leaves are more upright than most other varieties. Seed are white, similar to that of ‘Chapman’.  Horizon 314 has been licensed to Plantation Seeds, Newton, Georgia for marketing and was available for the first time in the fall of 2000.


‘Horizon 474’ was approved for release in 2002.  It is a winter oat with excellent test weight, good crown rust resistance, and early maturity.  Horizon 474 was tested under two experimental numbers: FLX474-1-B2-8-W1 and FL88 Coker D-54-W1). It was a selection made from the cross (designated X474): Coker 85-18//Coker 78-28/Coker 79-26. It is most similar to the variety Florida 501 but has white seed whereas Florida 501 has yellow seed.  Horizon 474 was also licensed to Plantation Seeds, Newton, Georgia for marketing and will be available for the first time in the fall of 2002.  Both Horizon 314 and Horizon 474 will be protected under U. S. Plant Variety Protection Act.



Southern Winter Oat Breeding:


Oat breeding in the southern winter oat area is proceeding at a steady pace with at least six programs submitting lines to the regional nursery that was being coordinated by David Livingston with the USDA-ARS at North Carolina State University.  Active programs are being conducted by the following:  Paul Murphy, North Carolina State University; Doyce Graham, Clemson University in South Carolina; Ron Barnett, University of Florida; Steve Harrison, Louisiana State University; and Milton McDaniel, Texas A&M University, College Station.  There is no breeding work on oats being done in Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, or Virginia.  All the breeders in the South who work with oats also work with other small grains.


We are not aware of any oats that are harvested in the South and used by the milling industry.  Also, we are not aware of an oat mill located in the South.  Most of our oats are fall planted and are used by our livestock industries either as winter grazing, hay, silage, or as a feed grain.  Oats are well liked for the multiple-cropping, minimum tillage systems widely used in the South.  Oats are also used in wildlife feed plots that are very popular and a big user of seed in the South.


The objectives of the breeding programs are forage production, crown and stem rust resistance, and winter hardiness. Quite a bit of emphasis is also placed on grain yield.  Also, each breeder has sought BYDV resistance.  A regional screening nursery coordinated by Steve Harrison at LSU contains about 200 entries.  It is grown by six cooperators in short 3-5 ft rows for each entry.


A Uniform Naked Winter Oat Nursery was begun in 2001 and is being grown at six locations each year.  It contains about 25 entries and is being coordinated by Ron Barnett at the University of Florida.  Only two naked varieties have been released in the South.  The older variety of the two, Nuda One, was developed by the Coker breeding program, and the newer variety, NC Hulless, was developed at North Carolina State University.



The Quaker International Oat Nursery:


The principal activities of the Quaker Nursery coordinators have centered on developing and distributing a series of pure lines and a series of F2 or F3 segregating populations.  One hundred pure lines and two hundred segregating populations are included in each nursery that is grown in approximately 25 locations around the world.  The primary area of interest for this nursery is in South America with emphasis on Brazil, Argentina and Chile which all have Quaker oat milling operations.  This nursery has been in operation for about 25 years and a number of improved varieties have originated from material in this nursery.  For many of the locations where this nursery is grown, it is their primary source of new germplasm.


Ron Barnett has been the coordinator of this nursery since 1998, and Deon Stuthman has provided the leadership for the annual reports. The most recent report has been put on the web and can be pulled up using the following address:


The University of Wisconsin, University of Minnesota, University of Florida, Texas A & M University, and Louisiana State University have been the major contributors of the entries in the nursery.  Some of the sites where the nursery is grown are visited each year by a Quaker team.

Recently, we have entered a number of the slow rusting germplasm lines to the nursery The most recent strategy in developing the segregating populations has been to make US northern spring X US southern winter X South American improved lines in three-way crosses.  The USDA-ARS’s Aberdeen, Idaho site has been very important in increasing material to go into this nursery. A number of the spring x winter segregating populations have also been sent to the spring locations for evaluation since it is possible that the southern winter germplasm has something to offer spring breeders.  This past year, segregation populations were sent to spring oat breeding programs in Illinois, North Dakota, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin.




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