Promoting Canadian Oats

Prairie Oat Growers Association (POGA) Projects as of June 2019.

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 AAFC (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada) Brandon Research Centre in Brandon, MB, The Crop Development Centre in Saskatoon and Oat Advantage (private oat breeding) in Saskatoon.
  • Organic Oat Breeding: conducted at AAFC in Brandon, MB by Dr. Jennifer Mitchell Fetch: The objective is to develop milling quality oat cultivars suitable for organic production in western Canada, and potentially across Canada.  Dr. Mitchell Fetch will evaluate and identify germplasm with high levels of genetically conferred disease resistance, and to develop oat cultivars with durable resistance, especially to oat rusts, with acceptable milling quality, suitable for organically managed production systems in western Canada, and for the ever-increasing organic markets
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Crown Rust Marker Project conducted at the US Department of Agriculture and in collaboration with the North American Miller’s 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 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.   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. 
  • 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. 
  • Improved Integrated Disease Management for Oats in Saskatchewan is led by Jessica Pratchler of Northeast Agriculture Research Foundation. This project aims to understand the effectiveness of fungicide applications, in addition to genetic resistance to control foliar diseases in oats. It will determine the impact that plant populations have on optimal fungicide applications.  It will also explore the impact of increased plant populations and their effect on reduced tillering, decreased variability of growth stages within plants of a given area, and ease determining the optimal fungicide application timing. Finally, it will look at how integrated disease management strategies vary in SK soil climatic zones. 
  • Monitoring SOC on Commercial Direct-seeded Fields Across Saskatchewan – Phase 4 is led by Brian McConkey with Ag Canada. This project will resample the Prairie Soil Carbon Balance Project (PSCB) network and analyze for changes in soil organic carbon (SOC) since 1996, 1999, 2005 and 2011. The intention is to use to the evidence to benefit producers economically from the environmental benefits they have produced. The Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association (SSCA) developed the Prairie Soil Carbon Balance Project to provide strong evidence of the positive effect of conservation agriculture practice (direct seeding and diverse cropping system with little fallow) on soil quality, as indicated by SOC. This project represents an important phase in the project to show the benefits 20 years after adoption of conservation agriculture.
  • Improving Oat Yield with Intensive Agronomy is another project led by Jessica Pratchler and will be conducted at the AAFC Melfort Research Farm in Melfort, SK. Traditionally, oats have been grown under moderate or low input production practices. However, producers are adapting new production practices in order to increase yield, quality, and profitability. An increase in the fertility regime needs to be balanced against lodging, disease implications and delayed maturity. With the milling industry’s direction to avoid the use of glyphosate as a desiccant, a mixture of intensively managed inputs can help to speed up maturity. With increased fertility for yield and increased standability, growers may produce a higher yielding and improved milling quality oat crop in an economical manner. 
  • Managing Fertilizer Use to Optimize Yield and Quality of Oat is being conducted by Lana Shaw at the South East Research Farm (SERF). Nitrogen fertilizer use in oat is limited by its effect on lodging of the crop and reducing quality of the oats. This project will demonstrate the effect of four rates of N fertility on yield, quality, and lodging of milling oat, as well as will look at any added benefits with potassium fertilization. Information from William May’s research trial (AAFC at Indian Head) that evaluated various milling oat varieties for test weight stability with four nitrogen rates will be utilized so as to not duplicate previous research. This project will be conducted in Redvers and Yorkton, SK.
  • Oat Vigour Improves with Larger Seed Size is a project being led by Mike Hall of Parkland College. The objective is to demonstrate how seedling vigor in oats can be improved by screening for a larger seed size.  Vigorous seed will be shown to have greater emergence, improved stand establishment, greater competitiveness against wild oats, earlier maturity and greater yield. The importance of using 1000 kernel weight when determining seeding rates will also be demonstrated. This project will be conducted at Yorkton and Indian Head, SK.
  • Coordinated Monitoring of Field Crop Insect Pests in the Prairie Ecosystem led by Dr.Meghan Vankosky, AAFC Saskatoon.  The Prairie Pest Monitoring Network is a collaborative project. Its participants include federal and provincial entomologists, university scientists, agronomists, industry, and producers. Participants monitor insect pests annually across Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and the BC Peace Region. Data is released on a weekly basis when insect pests pose the greatest threat to crop yield. Annual data is collected and compiled into distribution maps, and in some cases, forecast maps for the subsequent season. These tools provide up-to-date, relevant information that can be used by agronomists, industry representatives, and farmers to make decisions regarding insect pest management.
  • Selecting Crop Sequences and Developing a Risk Model to Mitigate FHB in Western Canadian Cereal Production led by Paul Bullock, University of Manitoba.  The oat related objective of this study is to determine the optimum crop sequence to mitigate FHB in wheat and other cereals, as well as the most detrimental crop sequences affecting FHB of cereal crops.
  • Breeding, Genomics and Agronomy Research to Improve Oat Yield and Quality led by Dr. Weikai Yan and Nick Tinker, AAFC Ottawa.  There are six objectives in this project, and POGA is helping to fund objectives 2-6: 2) identifying optimal agronomic practices to achieve high and stable grain yield and quality; 3) enhancing the current oat breeding procedures in both the Ottawa and Brandon programs with genomic selection; 4) improving the ability to deploy appropriate rust resistance genes through a survey of Pc gene profiles in existing cultivars, and Pc gene effectiveness in western and eastern Canada; 5) enhancing genetic diversity in North American oat breeding programs through a joint testing and genotyping network that promotes germplasm exchange and provides information about adaptation; and 6) developing a multi-faceted approach to data and knowledge management that enhances all objectives of this project and benefits world-wide pre-competitive oat research.
  • Development of Markers Linked to Oat Crown Rust Resistance to Help Breed Improved Oat Varieties for Canadian Oat Producers led by Dr. Aaron Beattie. To build on Western Canada’s position as a supplier of premium quality oats to the current US markets, and developing markets like Mexico and China, requires developing varieties with a strong disease resistance package (of which crown rust resistance is a critical component). This will provide value to growers, through improved yield and reduced input costs (i.e. reduced fungicide use) which will help oat remain a viable crop within a grower’s rotation, and to millers/food processors, through higher selectability (i.e. good plumpness and test weight). 
  • Understanding the Impact of Particle Size on Physicochemical Properties and Nutritional Benefits of Pulse and Oat Flours by Dr. Yongfeng Ai.  This project will address two interlinked but distinct research gaps: 1) investigate the effects of milling/processing of pulse and cereal flours on their physicochemical functionality in foods; 2) determine the impact of milling on nutritional benefits of pulses and cereals with a focus on postprandial glycemia and insulinemia. The former will generate the new knowledge and technologies needed in the food industry to produce high-quality food ingredients with functional versatility, and the latter will support future health claims to promote the consumption of heathy pulse and cereal products.
  • Maintaining Acceptable Test Weights for Milling Oats led by Mike Hall at East Central Research Foundation. This project will look to prove that test weights and other quality factors for milling oats tend to worsen with delayed seeding and increasing nitrogen rates. It will also compare test weight stability between varieties, demonstrating that seeding early and managing nitrogen is particularly critical for a low test weight variety such as CS Camden as compared to Summit.  This project will look at how different varieties in Saskatchewan respond to varying nitrogen rates and seeding timing.
  • Oat Pea Intercrop Demonstration led by Lana Shaw at South East Research Farm. This project will look at how to grow oat and pea together as a grain crop, how to separate grain components using slotted screens, and the effect of varying oat seeding rate in intercrop with pea on yield and agronomic parameters.  Peas and oats are both relatively low value crops in the rotation compared with canola. They are both beneficial to have in a crop rotation in terms of nitrogen use efficiency and mycorrhizal associations. Intercropping oats and pea in a mixed grain crop may result in a more resilient and valuable product with reduced need for herbicides and nitrogen fertilizer.  Oat may have beneficial effects on pea disease or reduce weed pressure, which has implications for herbicide-resistant weeds like kochia. An oat-pea intercrop may be agronomically and economically suitable for many of the crop zones found in the province.  An intercrop may reduce the need for glyphosate applications by reducing weed competition and may also improve soil aggregate stability.


  • Expand the Canadian Oat Market: Mexico 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 opportunities 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.  Since this project began in 2015 Canada has had the largest three oat export to Mexico in history and 2018 was the largest yet.
  • Keep It Clean Cereals (KIC) is a program that shows Canada’s commitment to delivering consistently superior agricultural products to markets around the world. Keep it Clean is an established program started by the Canola Council of Canada and expanded with Cereals Canada, Barley Council of Canada and POGA to share best practices required for export-quality cereals and canola. The overall goal of the KIC program is to help prevent market access issues and maintain Canada’s international reputation for reliability and quality. Each importing country has different standards and qualities that must be met for that market. The KIC program best management practices checklist contains five items, accompanied by explanations of each item. This list was created to be used by growers, but it also serves as the Canadian value chain’s commitment to quality, cleanliness, and consistency.

MARKET access

  • China, Led by Emerging Ag In 2015 POGA applied through Market Access Secretariat (MAS) for market access for Canadian raw oats in China.  In 2017, POGA hired Emerging Ag to propel this project forward.  This project has four pieces: 1) Liaise, in conjunction with AAFC, CFIA, and Global Affairs Canada, to understand the specific review needs of the Chinese phytosanitary authority. 2) Facilitate the research and engagement of Chinese officials so they may conduct reviews as needed. 3) Conduct technical reviews to meet any data requirements. Conduct technical reviews regarding any potential risk vectors. This could include CABI reviews, provincial agronomy reviews, literature reviews, and development of technical data if there are not existing records regarding specified plant health issues.  4) Outreach to the Chinese import sector to discuss the merits of Canadian oats and build internal demand within China for a solution on the plant health requirement. This would also foster relationships which would be of subsequent use to POGA when the market is opened.
  • India In 2016, POGA applied through the Market Access Secretariat for elimination of the requirement for methyl bromine fumigation on raw oats for human and feed consumption as well as a reduction in tariffs for processed oats and groats into India.  This requirement for methyl bromide is also prevalent in other crops, most notably pulses.  The Government of Canada has advised that until this issue is resolved in pulses it’s unlikely to be resolved in other crops like oats.  POGA continues to follow up on this request.
  • CPTPP countries POGA is working with provincial governments to determine tariff and non-tariff barriers for oats into CPTPP countries to ensure that oats will have market access to these countries when/if this agreement is ratified or to begin work to address issues as soon as possible.

*Most of these projects are partially funded by one of the following: Through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, AgriScience Program: Projects Component and the AgriMarketing Program-National Industry Association Component ; 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.