Oat in Saskatchewan 1995 - 1997
B.G.Rossnagel, R.S.Bhatty & G.J.Scoles
Crop Development Centre
University of Saskatchewan
Oat acreage in Saskatchewan continues to increase from the levels of the mid and late 1980's, when the planted area averaged some 800,000 acres, to an estimated > 2.0 million acres in 1998. Acreage had declined to an all-time low of 510,000 in 1991, but jumped back to 1,450,000 in 1994, 1,200,000 in 1995, 1,800,000 in 1996, and 1,500,000 in 1997. Saskatchewan became Canada's leading oat producing province in 1994 when the acreage surpassed that for Alberta by some 25%. By 1997 that differential increased to 40%. The dramatic change has been brought about by a number of factors, including the continuing demand for high milling quality oat by US millers. However, the greatest influencing factor has been the removal of the "Crow Rate" freight subsidy, which has effectively made the economics of oat production for the US market more favourable in the eastern prairie region. The opening of the Canoat Milling facility just north of Saskatoon at Martensville, Saskatchewan has also been a major factor in increased oat acreage in 1998,combined with generally low commodity prices for competing grains.

The Crop Development Centre varieties Calibre and Derby still dominate production, although the newer varieties CDC Boyer, AC Assiniboia and AC Medallion are beginning to make some in-roads in 1998. The CDC program released a new cultivar in 1996 called CDC Pacer, which, along with CDC Boyer, should replace much of the Calibre and Derby acreage. In addition, the CDC project, in collaboration with the Alberta and Saskatchewan Wheat Pools, in 1998 released CDC Bell, a specialty forage oat variety for greenfeed purposes.

Oat R&D activity at the CDC continues to focus on the development and release of high quality top performing milling oat varieties for Saskatchewan, although several new special projects have been undertaken since the last Oat Newsletter report in 1995. These include: the CDC project becoming part of the Quaker Quality Oat Project consortium resulting in efforts to use MMAS for disease resistance and grain quality selection and a considerably increased effort to breed for rust resistance for eastern Saskatchewan; continuing our CDC/Cargill/Quaker project to improve groat protein, but now also in combination with crown rust resistance; a project investigating groat breakage in milling oat; a special forage oat development project; a project to develop specialty oat for weaner pig diets with very high energy density; and a project to investigate the use and development of microsatellite DNA marker technology for MMAS in oat.

The Crop Development Centre oat R&D program is funded by the Saskatchewan Department of Agriculture and Food, Agriculture Development Fund and receives additional support from the Quaker Oats Co. , The Quaker Oats Co. of Canada, Cargill, General Mills, Canoat Milling Ltd., the Alberta and Saskatchewan Wheat Pools and NSERCC. We wish to gratefully acknowledge that support.



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