Oat quality targets will depend on the end user’s required specification e.g. livestock feed or for milling. The main traits to consider are grain protein (%), size (1000 grain weight, TGW) and specific weight (kg/hl).
The factors that affect the quality of oats are variety, soil type, fertilisation and plant protection. The weather conditions during the growing season also have a significant effect on the quality especially mould and toxin contents.
Nitrogen and Potassium are the most influential of the macronutrients on grain quality. Nitrogen is important for grain size and protein content whilst potassium maintains the crop structure to prevent lodging that reduces grain size and specific weight.
The secondary nutrients sulphur and magnesium influence grain protein and specific weight respectively, whilst the micronutrient zinc and molybdenum also helps nitrogen metabolism that improves grain protein concentrations.
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