Producing milling oats in Western Washington : guide to grain quality optimization and marketing
Winkler, Louisa R.
Murphy, Kevin M., 1972-
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Oats, like wheat and barley, are a small grain which agricultural producers in western Washington can incorporate into their rotations to disrupt pest and disease cycles and contribute to soil quality. Oats are physiologically well adapted to the region’s cool climate and high rainfall. However, oats have not been studied in western Washington during recent generations, and there is a lack of information about value-added markets for the crop, optimal production practices, and variety choice. This publication takes a first step towards rebuilding a regional knowledge-base for oats, focusing on the production of food oats for the milling industry. We introduce milling oat quality specifications and describe how the crop’s performance can be managed to meet them, both in the field and after harvest. Results are presented from two years of variety trials carried out in four western Washington counties which identified several oat varieties with consistent yield and quality performance. Production data from these trials are analyzed together with regional market prices to provide an indication of the revenue potential of milling oats grown in western Washington. Comparison of revenues with those of other small grains shows that oats can be economically competitive. Oats represent an interesting opportunity for producers in western Washington both to diversify their rotations and strengthen local food systems.