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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: OAT QUALITY IMPROVEMENT

Location: Cereal Crops Research

2006 Annual Report


1.What major problem or issue is being resolved and how are you resolving it (summarize project aims and objectives)? How serious is the problem? Why does it matter?
Oats are a nutritious and healthful food. They are high in protein and contain high levels of soluble fiber, known as beta-glucan, that has a physiological effect on humans of lowering blood cholesterol. Thus, the consumption of oats or oat products can lower the chance of heart disease. Oats are also an important animal feed, and are particularly important in regions where corn and soybeans cannot be grown, or where horses are raised extensively. Finally, oats are being processed to make value-added products. Quality of oats grown in the United States needs improvement to enhance their milling and nutritional value for food, feed and value-added applications. This project evaluates factors affecting oat quality, generates new and improved means to evaluate oat quality, and interacts with a breeding program to generate improved oat cultivars.

Improvement of American oat quality is particularly important in light of eroding American oat production being replaced by Canadian oat imports during a time of increasing American oat demand. Improved quality of American grown oats over the Canadian imports may contribute to the recapture of the American oat market by American grown grain, and will contribute to agricultural economic stability by providing a more diverse commodity base.

This project has three main objectives to contribute to oat quality improvement.

Objective 1: Evaluate role of oat panicle architecture on the environmental stability of high test weight of grain. Because test weight is the primary factor affecting value of oats, improvement of environmental stability of test weight is intended to allow producers to more consistently produce grain of high value.

Objective 2: Determine the effect of oat kernel shape and size upon dehulling characteristics. The value of oats to an oat processor is primarily determined by the milling yield during dehulling with an impact dehuller. Characterization of physical characteristics associated with milling yield is intended to help improve the profitability of the oat milling process.

Objective 3: Determine environmental and genotypic variation of oat oil composition. Oats contain unique and potentially valuable oils. Chemical characterization of these may lead to improved value in oats as a crop.

The primary thrust of this research directly relates to both components of NP306: Quality and Utilization of Agricultural Products (Component 1: Quality Characterization, Preservation, and Enhancement; Component 2: New Processes, New Uses, and Value-added Foods and Biobased Products).


2.List by year the currently approved milestones (indicators of research progress)
2006 Test-weight Stability: Grow hill plots at diverse environments. Gather second year samples for plant density project.

Impact Dehulling: Determine dehulling characteristics on size fractions from two oat cultivars with impact dehuller.

Oat Oil Project: Initiate extractions and analysis of diverse genotypes from at least three environments.

2007 Test-weight Stability: Grow hill plots in diverse environments and analyze panicle architecture.

Analyze data from plant density experiment.

Impact Dehulling: Determine dehulling characteristics from size fractions of up to 12 genotypes.

Oat Oil Project: Continue extractions and analyses of oat oil from diverse genotypes grown in different environments.

2008 Test-weight Stability: Grow hill plots in diverse environments and analyze panicle architecture. Complete analysis of role of kernel order in spikelets on bimodal distribution.

Impact Dehulling: Collect second year of dehulling characteristics from 12 genotypes.

Oat Oil Project: Continue extractions and analyses of oat oil from diverse genotypes grown in different environments.

2009 Test-weight Stability: If necessary, grow hill plots for fourth year. Complete data analysis for data set.

Impact Dehulling: If necessary, collect third year of dehulling characteristics from 12 genotypes. Assemble data set and analyze.

Oat Oil Project: Complete oil extractions and apply statistical analyses to results.


4a.List the single most significant research accomplishment during FY 2006.
High oat test weight is associated with improved dehulling efficiency: Improved oat milling efficiency, especially improved dehulling properties, would significantly improve the value of oats grown in the United States. We have analyzed dehulling properties and physical properties of various size fractions of oats when dehulled with an impact dehuller, as is used in industry. The one physical characteristic that was consistently associated with improved dehulling efficiency was high test weight. This emphasizes the importance of test weight in the production of milling oats. This accomplishment aligns with NP306 Component 1: Quality Characterization, Preservation, and Enhancement.


4b.List other significant research accomplishment(s), if any.
Oat kernel size distributions are bimodal because of the basic architecture of the oat spikelet: Oat kernel size is important to the oat industry because of its role in affecting the dehulling process. Oat kernel size distributions are generally bimodal, as if composed of two distinctly sized subpopulations. The oat spikelet is generally composed of two kernels, the primary kernel being larger than the secondary. Our analyses have confirmed that the two size populations are derived from the primary and secondary kernels of the spikelet. This information may facilitate the breeding of oat with more uniformly sized kernels. This accomplishment aligns with NP306 Component 1: Quality Characterization, Preservation, and Enhancement.


4c.List significant activities that support special target populations.
Oats are more commonly grown by smaller farms. This project contributes to the development and release of new oat cultivars through the North Dakota State University Oat Improvement Program. We have been particularly active in the selection of high fiber cultivars, such as “HiFi”, which provide greater health benefits to consumers and more value to the producers.


4d.Progress report.
None.


5.Describe the major accomplishments to date and their predicted or actual impact.
High oat test weight is associated with improved dehulling efficiency: Improved oat milling efficiency, especially improved dehulling properties, would significantly improve the value of oats grown in the United States. We have analyzed dehulling properties and physical properties of various size fractions of oats when dehulled with an impact dehuller, as is used in industry. The one physical characteristic that was consistently associated with improved dehulling efficiency was high test weight. This emphasizes the importance of test weight in the production of milling oats.

Larger groat to oat size is associated with higher grain test weight: Oat groat (caryopsis) size was measured by digital image analysis from ten oat cultivars grown at four locations over two years and compared with the size of the whole oat kernel, including the hull. This provides evidence for the physical basis of test weight, and suggests that low test weight oats may contain significant amounts of empty space within their hulls. Test weight is a primary determinant of value in oats. The determination of physical characteristics associated with high test weight will assist breeders to select for oat lines for this trait.

Oat cultivars released: The North Dakota State University oat breeding program, in collaboration with ARS has released two new oat cultivars, named Maida, and Stark. Maida is a high quality milling oat with improved stem rust resistance. Stark is a high yielding, high quality naked oat. These new oat cultivars are designed to bring current germplasm improvements to the oat produces of the northern plains region.

The primary thrust of this research directly relates to both components of NP306: Quality and Utilization of Agricultural Products (Component 1: Quality Characterization, Preservation, and Enhancement; Component 2: New Processes, New Uses, and Value-added Foods and Biobased Products). Accomplishments also relate to ARS Strategic Plan Goal 1: Enhance economic opportunities for agricultural producers, Objective 1.1: Provide the science-based knowledge and technologies to generate new or improved high quality, value-added products and processes to expand domestic and foreign markets for agricultural commodities, and Performance Measure 1.1.2.


6.What science and/or technologies have been transferred and to whom? When is the science and/or technology likely to become available to the end-user (industry, farmer, other scientists)? What are the constraints, if known, to the adoption and durability of the technology products?
We continue to provide technical consulting services to the oat processing industry to help solve problems in the industry. Our most significant contribution this year has been in the assistance to a health food company in their efforts to market the high fiber oat cultivar “HiFi” as a health food. This product is likely to be available to consumers during the winter of 2006. Also, a common complaint of oat consumers in some years and locations is that the oats turn green when cooked. We have discovered that oats cooked in alkali color will turn green because of a reaction of phenolic compounds. Acidification of cooking conditions with a mild acid, such as lemon juice, will prevent the development of the green color. Oat companies have been informed of this information and their customer relations people can now advise consumers how to prevent the development of the unpalatable color.


7.List your most important publications in the popular press and presentations to organizations and articles written about your work. (NOTE: List your peer reviewed publications below).
Doehlert, D.C., Wiesenborn, D. (2005) Interactions of kernel size and rotor speed in oat dehulling characteristics. AACC Annual Meeting Program Book p 139.(Presentation)

New oat boasts more beta-glucan for healthier hearts. Agricultural Research/ February 2006 (Popular press).


Review Publications
Doehlert, D.C., McMullen, M.S., Jannink, J.L. 2006. Oat grain/groat size ratios: a physical basis for test weight. Cereal Chemistry. 83(1):114-118.

Doehlert, D.C., Jannink, J., McMullen, M.S. 2006. Kernel size variation in naked oat. Crop Science. 46:1117-1123.

Last Modified: 4/16/2014
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