New Oat Varieties for Forage Production
Demetrios Droushiotis
Agricultural Research Institute
Nicosia - CYPRUS
Under Mediterranean climatic conditions and systems of agriculture, small grain cereals, especially barley and to a lesser extent oats, are important forage crops. They are, in general, more drought and cold resistant than forage legumes and do better under conditions of long dry summers and cool wet winters.

Previous studies with several oat varieties introduced from abroad showed that Monterzuma, a variety introduced from California (USA), gave 12% higher dry matter yield (6.35 t/ha) than the locally grown variety Palestine.

Recently a number of new forage oat varieties were introduced from various countries over a period of ten years and their performance was evaluated.

The dry matter yield of Mulga (8.9 t/ha), the best selected forage variety, was 10% higher than that of Montezuma. There were no significant differences between the two varieties in digestibility, digestible organic matter and crude protein yields. Mulga is on, average 11 cm taller than Montezuma (99cm), while seed production of the two varieties is similar. Mulga is more resistant to lodging and rust. Varieties that lodged are difficult to harvest and lodged matted oats are often severely infected with rust.

Both Montezuma and Mulga are medium maturing varieties and reach the milk stage of grain around mid-April (± one week). Mulga has thick stems and many large broad leaves, and is palatable to livestock. It is recommended to be grown only in pure stands and not in mixtures with legumes, as it is very competitive depressing the legume component, particularly in the early growth stages. In addition, the milk stage of grain of Mulga does not always coincide with the full pod formation stage of legumes, which would optimize forage production.

On the other hand the two late varieties Algerian and Local reach the milk stage of grain on average 9 days later than Mulga. Algerian, a variety introduced from Australia in 1979, is recommended to replace Local since it produce (8.9 t/ha) 19% and (2.9 t/ha) 38% more dry matter and grain yields than Local, respectively. Algerian is on average 88 cm tall while Local is 74 cm. Algerian has fine stems and leaves, which are often considered quality factors in oats hay, although their direct relation to hay quality is not yet known. In addition the Algerian combines well with legumes since it is not as competitive as Mulga, permitting more legume growth in mixtures, Algerian can also be used for hay making in pure stands as a complementary variety to Mulga.

By using two varieties for hay making, a medium (Mulga) and a late maturing one (Algerian), hay production can be spread over a longer period for easy curing.


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