Promoting Canadian Oats

The Prairie Oat Growers Association (POGA) Projects as of September 2017.

Research and Development

  • Oat Breeding: POGA, through the Manitoba Oat Growers Association, the Saskatchewan Oat Development Commission and the Alberta Oat Growers Association, provides funding to the Brandon Research Centre in Brandon, MB, The Crop Development Centre in Saskatoon and Oat Advantage (private oat breeding) in Saskatoon.
  • Transposon-mediated gene tagging in Oats conducted at McGill University by Dr. Jaswinder Singh: The objective of this five-year project is to lay the foundation for a new method of identifying genes to improve oat breeding. The goal is to be able to “turn on” a characteristic like higher beta-glucan, more straw strength, etc. wanted by oat producers and/or millers.
  • Occurrence and fate of toxigenic fungi and the associated mycotoxins in Saskatchewan grown oats and oat milling products conducted at the Canadian Grain Commission. This research will determine the occurrence of toxigenic fungi and associated mycotoxins in oats grown in Saskatchewan and elsewhere on the Canadian Prairies, and evaluate the fate of fungi and mycotoxins during oat processing. Outcomes will allow oat producers, processors, and regulators to plan appropriate risk management strategies. The research will also determine if oats produced in certain regions are more likely to be infected by toxigenic fungi and contain mycotoxins than others. Oat producers in the identified regions can be advised to adapt their management practices to mitigate this increased risk.
  • Integrated Weed Management Strategies to Maximize Oat Production conducted at the University of Saskatchewan by Dr. Chris Willenborg: the objective of this trial is to examine staking cultural weed control tactics for wild oat and kochia management in oat production and screen several herbicides for kochia and wild oat control in oats.
  • The Effect of Pre-harvest Glyphosate on Quality of Milling Oats conducted at U of S by Dr. Chris Willenborg: There are three objectives of this three-year study. 1) To investigate the effect the timing of pre-harvest glyphosate on oat yield, as well as seed physical and functional qualities; 2) To investigate the interaction of cultural practices with pre-harvest glyphosate on seed physical and functional quality; and 3) To investigate alternative cultural / herbicide combinations for managing perennial weeds.
  • Update to Online Oat Grower Manual. POGA has contracted Jim Dyck of Oat Advantage to review and update the Online Grower Manual including providing new agronomic and updated information by mid-2017.
  • Crop Sequencing of Large Acre Crops and Special Crops conducted at Indian Head Agricultural Research Farm by Bill May: Special crops provide producers with opportunities to diversify both in crops and in value added enterprises; they require agronomic information on these crops. The effect of crop sequences and crop rotation is important agronomic information that is lacking and will help producers decide where these crops best fit in a crop sequence to optimize the crops they grow. Eight crops will be grown in different sequences to determine moisture and residual N, plant density, volunteers (counts and biomass), disease ratings, grain yield and grain quality. The eight crops are: Wheat, Oat, Canola, Pea, Canary seed, Hemp, Quinoa and Coriander.
  • Yield Response and test weight stability of Oat to Fertilizer N conducted at Indian Head, Yorkton, Redvers and Melfort. This research is led by Bill May and the objective of this research is to determine if the test weight of current oat cultivars vary in the stability of their test weight as the nitrogen rate is increased, along with exposing growers to new oat varieties that may be better than the cultivars currently grown in the area of the trial.
  • Oats Improve the Gastrointestinal Health of Horses conducted at Penn State by Dr. Burt Staniar: The study will investigate whether inclusion of whole oats in the horse’s diet will influence the horse’s gastrointestinal health. One hypothesis suggests that inclusion of oats in certain diets may reduce the risk of important health concerns including gastric ulcers, colitis, and laminitis. Any evidence for even small reductions in risk of some of these problems has a large value to horse owners. The expected outcomes of this study would suggest that oats not only be viewed as an energy source, but also as a health promoting dietary ingredient for horses.
  • Investigation of Avenanthramides - A Type of New Healthy Compounds in Oats conducted at the University of Saskatchewan by Dr. Xiao Qiu: the goal is to improve the nutritional value of oats through increasing the level of avenanthramides, novel bioactive compounds in oats that have strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-itching activities. Specifically, this project will survey the contents of avenanthramides in oat species, cultivars and breeding lines and identify the genes catalyzing the final step of the biosynthesis of avenanthramides. The sequence information of these genes can be used to develop functional DNA markers for oat breeding programs to improve levels of these important bioactive compounds.
  • Crown Rust Marker Project conducted at the US Department of Agriculture and in collaboration with the North American Millers' Associations: The project will identify molecular markers for oat crown rust resistance. These markers will allow breeders to know whether they have a resistant variety without having to expose the variety to crown rust. It will also allow breeders to more effectively combine multiple resistance genes into a single variety. The USDA ARS lab will take in samples from breeding programs from around the world, develop markers, validate them, and then characterize germplasm.
  • Breeding for Resistance to Leaf Blotch Pathogens in Saskatchewan Oats conducted at the University of Saskatchewan by Dr. Aaron Beattie: Leaf blotch has become more prevalent in recent years, but very little is known about the impact of these diseases on oat production. Given the apparent susceptibility of some oat germplasm to these pathogens, concern exists as to the potential harm they may pose to oat yield and grain quality (i.e. test weight), which can negatively impact milling quality and price. This research looks at developing screening techniques to evaluate and understand oat leaf blotch pathogens, understand the genetics of resistance in oats to leaf blotch and identify and develop molecular markers for leaf blotch resistance in oat breeding.
  • Optimizing Oat Yield, Quality and Stand-ability in Central Alberta conducted by Dr. Linda Hall at the University of Alberta. This project focuses on enhancing the yield and profitability of central Alberta oat growers through the selection of varieties, optimizing nitrogen fertilizer and plant growth regulators (PGRs). The lack of regionally specific oat research has been a factor leading to relatively low acreage and yields in central/northern Alberta, despite the high yield potential and available local oat markets.
  • Optimizing protein quality of Alberta oats and food application development conducted by Dr. Lingyun Chen at the University of Alberta. Research is ongoing to analyze oat protein quality for both functionality and nutritive value as impacted by variety and agronomy practice. Analysis of the oat grains harvested in year 1 indicates that fertility level significantly impacts the protein content in oats. In addition, the university is collaborating with OatDeal, a Saskatoon based company, to develop a ready-to-drink oat functional beverage high in beta-glucan and protein.
  • Mitigating mycotoxins in the Canadian Food Value Chain led by Susan Abel of Food & Consumer Products. Currently, no level of mycotoxins are legally permitted under the provisions of Canada’s Food and Drugs Act. Put in other terms, the current MLs for OTA and DON are in effect, zero. However, zero DON and OTA in milling quality wheat, oats and barley is not achievable in North America. One of the core strategies for getting the Canadian grain supply chain out of this intractable situation is to generate more and better information through mycotoxin research. Therefore, the objectives of this research include 1) Develop a rapid reliable method for sampling and testing DON and OTA at wheat grain elevator using aspirated dust particles at primary storage sites. 2) Develop best practices for post-farm storage and processing to minimize the development of OTA 3) Review agronomic practices to determine the relative benefits of the advances in seed and farming practices such as the use of fungicides and tools like forecasting. 4) Develop reliable, rapid, cost effective tests to quantify the presence of fungi responsible for toxin production both in raw and processed grain.
  • Development of an Oat Based Beverage, conducted by Dr. Lingyun Chen at the University of Alberta. This collaborative industry project is focused on developing two oat protein-based beverages. The initial oat based beverage will be a ready to drink oat protein enriched product. The second will be a nutritious oat based beverage that possesses the necessary sensory and nutritional properties to improve the quality of life of patients who are undergoing radiation therapy.
  • Oat Coffee Additive/Creamer conducted by Dr. Lingyun Chen at the University of Alberta. Consumer demands for nutrition, convenience and plant proteins/fibres is generating a new market opportunity within the coffee creamer market. Through this research, the U of A will attempt to develop a nutritious, functional oat based coffee additive that combines protein, beta-glucan and a probiotic into a functional and competitive lactose-free coffee additive. This developed product will be the first of its kind on the market, and will generate a new market opportunity to increase consumer awareness of oats.
  • Product Development from Gluten Free Oat Fractions, conducted by Dr. Lingyun Chen at the University of Alberta. Traditionally, oats have been utilized in their whole ingredient form (flour, groats, flakes, rolled, etc.) In terms of fractionated ingredients companies supply growing markets for oat beta-glucan, oil, and proteins. Most fractionation methods that are currently used by industry focus on the extraction of one or two ingredients from oats, often resulting in the decrease quality, functionality, and usability of the non-desired fractions. This reduces the value-added potential of oats. This project is working on developing a cost-effective process that will allow for the extraction and utilization of all the oat ingredient fractions in coordination with two other POGA supported projects. The end goal is to develop 1-3 prototypes from each fraction (protein, fibre, starch and oil) and use these prototypes to engage retailers and finished product manufacturers.
  • Alberta Variety Trial led by Gateway Research Organization will test 11 approved milling varieties to investigate the impact of the variety and growing conditions on the yield and beta-glucan in both Westlock, AB and Fahler, AB. The goal of this trial is to determine if a variety with higher beta-glucan can outperform Morgan oats in Alberta to meet the oat miller’s demand for higher beta-glucan.
  • Develop New Strategies to Efficiently Utilize Oat Grains in High Production Dairy Cows to Maximize Economic Return and Benefit to Prairie Oat Growers, led by Dr. Peiqiang Yu from U of S, is a five-year project that aims to increase and enhance basic knowledge of the optimal nutrient supply to dairy cattle through variety selection, feed processing, and optimal feed ingredient blending. Objectives within this project include: finding the best oat variety or type of oat grain with the highest Feed Milk Value (FMV) for dairy cattle; improving the FMV of oats through processing applications; and finding the maximum or optimum level of oats to replace barley in high production lactation dairy cow diets. Among other things, this project will carry out a detailed metabolic study in dairy cattle to understand the effects of feed processing on rumen fermentation, degradation kinetics, intestinal digestion, and truly absorbed nutrient supply from Prairie oat grains to dairy cattle using various techniques.
  • Comparison of Quality among International Oat Sources is led by Dr. Nancy Ames at AAFC. The objective of the project is to conduct a direct comparison of quality between oats sourced from several major oat-producing countries. This information will provide the oat industry around the world with valuable marketing information, identify possible advantages for Canadian oats, and could help direct breeding priorities for Canadian oats. This project, if successful, will demonstrate that Canada leads the world in beta-glucan and/or fibre and/or protein content for oats. Beta-glucan is a key factor for oat millers as they must reach a level of at least 4% in order to label their products with the heart healthy claim in the USA. Fibre and protein are beneficial for consumers attempting to lose weight, and since obesity is on the rise in many countries there is a push for more high-fibre and high-protein foods. If these results are positive we can demonstrate to countries like China and India why they should purchase Canadian oats. 

Marketing

  • Development of the Mexican Oat Market for Canadian Oats led by Emerging Ag: Mexico is the third largest importer of oats globally and several other Latin American countries who import oats could offer additional opportunity for Canadian exports. A long term strategy for POGA is to make use of the proximity to these markets and build on the strong Canadian reputation for products in Mexico which would support the efforts to differentiate Canadian oats. This project focuses on diversification of Canadian oat exports to Mexico. The activities aim to increase per capita consumption of oats; increase Canadian oat exports to Mexico and increase consumer awareness of the health benefits of oats.
  • Transportation Project conducted by Emerging Ag: This project consists of continued work on the Canadian Transportation Act Review with the goal of improving the relationship between POGA and the transportation industry, increased export opportunities to international markets and impediment identification for better use of all modes of transportation. In addition, this project aims to find industry approved solutions from industry representatives on how the grain industry can work with the transportation industry for better service, more efficiency, higher volumes and better rates.
  • North American Oats Marketing Campaign "Oats Everyday" led by Suckerpunch: This project will work to position oats as a tasty, versatile and healthy food ingredient in the USA market. It will focus on small dietary changes to incorporate oats, highlighting oat benefits to consumers, as well as ways to easily and quickly substitute oats into recipes for tasty and healthy results. There will be weekly recipe releases, professionally prepared, photographed and supported by a video illustrating the recipe preparation, as well as tips and techniques to utilize oats in many different ways. The campaign will utilize a website, as well as Facebook and Instagram as their primary social media channels.
    Oats Everyday Website
    Oats Everyday on Facebook
    Oats Everyday on Instagram
    Oats Everyday on Pinterest
    Oats Everyday on YouTube

*Most of these projects are partially funded by one of the following: Through Growing Forward 2, a federal- provincial –territorial initiative, the AgriInnovation Program and the AgriMarketing Program; the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture through the Agriculture Development Fund (ADF) and the Canada-Saskatchewan Growing Forward 2 bi-lateral agreement, and the Agricultural Demonstration of Practices and Technologies (ADOPT) initiative under the Canada-Saskatchewan Growing Forward 2 bi-lateral agreement; Alberta Crop Industry Development Fund Ltd. (ACIDF);  Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF); Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC); and industry partners.

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