Oat
Overview
Oats redirects here. It may mean either the common cereal oat discussed here, or any cultivated or wild species of the genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 Avena
Avena
The oats are a genus of 10-15 species of true grasses . They are native to Europe, Asia and northwest Africa. One species is widely cultivated elsewhere, and several have become naturalized in many parts of the world...

.

The common oat (Avena sativa) is a species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 of cereal grain
Cereal
Cereals are grasses cultivated for the edible components of their grain , composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran...

 grown
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 for its seed, which is known by the same name (usually in the plural, unlike other grains). While oats are suitable for human consumption as oatmeal
Oatmeal
Oatmeal is ground oat groats , or a porridge made from oats . Oatmeal can also be ground oat, steel-cut oats, crushed oats, or rolled oats....

 and rolled oats
Rolled oats
Rolled oats are traditionally oat groats that have been rolled into flat flakes under heavy rollers and then steamed and lightly toasted. The oat, like the other cereals, has a hard, inedible outer husk that must be removed before the grain can be eaten. After the outer husk has been removed from...

, one of the most common uses is as livestock
Livestock
Livestock refers to one or more domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, fiber and labor. The term "livestock" as used in this article does not include poultry or farmed fish; however the inclusion of these, especially poultry, within the meaning...

 feed.
Encyclopedia
Oats redirects here. It may mean either the common cereal oat discussed here, or any cultivated or wild species of the genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 Avena
Avena
The oats are a genus of 10-15 species of true grasses . They are native to Europe, Asia and northwest Africa. One species is widely cultivated elsewhere, and several have become naturalized in many parts of the world...

.

The common oat (Avena sativa) is a species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 of cereal grain
Cereal
Cereals are grasses cultivated for the edible components of their grain , composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran...

 grown
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 for its seed, which is known by the same name (usually in the plural, unlike other grains). While oats are suitable for human consumption as oatmeal
Oatmeal
Oatmeal is ground oat groats , or a porridge made from oats . Oatmeal can also be ground oat, steel-cut oats, crushed oats, or rolled oats....

 and rolled oats
Rolled oats
Rolled oats are traditionally oat groats that have been rolled into flat flakes under heavy rollers and then steamed and lightly toasted. The oat, like the other cereals, has a hard, inedible outer husk that must be removed before the grain can be eaten. After the outer husk has been removed from...

, one of the most common uses is as livestock
Livestock
Livestock refers to one or more domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, fiber and labor. The term "livestock" as used in this article does not include poultry or farmed fish; however the inclusion of these, especially poultry, within the meaning...

 feed. Oats make up a part of the daily diet of horse
Horse
The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus, or the wild horse. It is a single-hooved mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today...

s, about 20% of daily intake or smaller, and are regularly fed to cattle
Cattle
Cattle are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos primigenius...

 as well. Oats are also used in some brands of dog food and chicken
Chicken
The chicken is a domesticated fowl, a subspecies of the Red Junglefowl. As one of the most common and widespread domestic animals, and with a population of more than 24 billion in 2003, there are more chickens in the world than any other species of bird...

 feed. Oat seeds are commonly marketed as cat grass to cat enthusiasts, since cats will readily harvest and eat tender young oat, wheat and some other grass sprouts.

Origin

The wild ancestor of Avena sativa and the closely related minor crop, A. byzantina, is the hexaploid
Polyploidy
Polyploid is a term used to describe cells and organisms containing more than two paired sets of chromosomes. Most eukaryotic species are diploid, meaning they have two sets of chromosomes — one set inherited from each parent. However polyploidy is found in some organisms and is especially common...

 wild oat A. sterilis. Genetic evidence shows the ancestral forms of A. sterilis grew in the Fertile Crescent
Fertile Crescent
The Fertile Crescent, nicknamed "The Cradle of Civilization" for the fact the first civilizations started there, is a crescent-shaped region containing the comparatively moist and fertile land of otherwise arid and semi-arid Western Asia. The term was first used by University of Chicago...

 of the Near East
Near East
The Near East is a geographical term that covers different countries for geographers, archeologists, and historians, on the one hand, and for political scientists, economists, and journalists, on the other...

. Domesticated oats appear relatively late, and far from the Near East, in Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 Europe. Oats, like rye
Rye
Rye is a grass grown extensively as a grain and as a forage crop. It is a member of the wheat tribe and is closely related to barley and wheat. Rye grain is used for flour, rye bread, rye beer, some whiskeys, some vodkas, and animal fodder...

, are usually considered a secondary crop, i.e., derived from a weed of the primary cereal
Cereal
Cereals are grasses cultivated for the edible components of their grain , composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran...

 domesticates wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

 and barley
Barley
Barley is a major cereal grain, a member of the grass family. It serves as a major animal fodder, as a base malt for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods...

. As these cereals spread westwards into cooler, wetter areas, this may have favoured the oat weed component, leading to its eventual domestication.

Cultivation

Top Ten Oats Producers—2005
(million metric ton)
5.1
3.3
1.7
1.3
1.2
1.1
1.0
0.8
0.8
0.8
World Total 24.6
Source: FAO
EU figures from 2007 include Poland, Finland and Germany.

Oats are grown throughout the temperate
Temperate
In geography, temperate or tepid latitudes of the globe lie between the tropics and the polar circles. The changes in these regions between summer and winter are generally relatively moderate, rather than extreme hot or cold...

 zones. They have a lower summer heat requirement and greater tolerance of rain
Rain
Rain is liquid precipitation, as opposed to non-liquid kinds of precipitation such as snow, hail and sleet. Rain requires the presence of a thick layer of the atmosphere to have temperatures above the melting point of water near and above the Earth's surface...

 than other cereals, such as wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

, rye
Rye
Rye is a grass grown extensively as a grain and as a forage crop. It is a member of the wheat tribe and is closely related to barley and wheat. Rye grain is used for flour, rye bread, rye beer, some whiskeys, some vodkas, and animal fodder...

 or barley
Barley
Barley is a major cereal grain, a member of the grass family. It serves as a major animal fodder, as a base malt for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods...

, so are particularly important in areas with cool, wet summers, such as Northwest Europe; they are even being grown successfully in Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

. Oats are an annual plant
Annual plant
An annual plant is a plant that usually germinates, flowers, and dies in a year or season. True annuals will only live longer than a year if they are prevented from setting seed...

, and can be planted either in autumn (for late summer harvest) or in the spring (for early autumn harvest).

Uses

Oats have numerous uses in food; most commonly, they are rolled
Rolled oats
Rolled oats are traditionally oat groats that have been rolled into flat flakes under heavy rollers and then steamed and lightly toasted. The oat, like the other cereals, has a hard, inedible outer husk that must be removed before the grain can be eaten. After the outer husk has been removed from...

 or crushed into oatmeal
Oatmeal
Oatmeal is ground oat groats , or a porridge made from oats . Oatmeal can also be ground oat, steel-cut oats, crushed oats, or rolled oats....

, or ground into fine oat flour
Flour
Flour is a powder which is made by grinding cereal grains, other seeds or roots . It is the main ingredient of bread, which is a staple food for many cultures, making the availability of adequate supplies of flour a major economic and political issue at various times throughout history...

. Oatmeal is chiefly eaten as porridge
Porridge
Porridge is a dish made by boiling oats or other cereal meals in water, milk, or both. It is usually served hot in a bowl or dish...

, but may also be used in a variety of baked goods, such as oatcake
Oatcake
An oatcake is a type of cracker or pancake, made from oatmeal, and sometimes flour as well. Oatcakes are cooked on a griddle or baked in an oven.- Scottish oatcakes :...

s, oatmeal cookies, and oat bread. Oats are also an ingredient in many cold cereals, in particular muesli
Muesli
Muesli is a popular breakfast cereal based on uncooked rolled oats, fruit and nuts. It was developed around 1900 by Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner for patients in his hospital...

 and granola
Granola
Granola is a breakfast food and snack food, popular in North America, consisting of rolled oats, nuts, honey, and sometimes rice, that is usually baked until crisp. During the baking process the mixture is stirred to maintain a loose, breakfast cereal-type consistency...

. Oats may also be consumed raw, and cookies with raw oats are becoming popular.

Oats are also occasionally used in several different drinks. In Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, they are used for brewing
Brewing
Brewing is the production of beer through steeping a starch source in water and then fermenting with yeast. Brewing has taken place since around the 6th millennium BCE, and archeological evidence suggests that this technique was used in ancient Egypt...

 beer
Beer
Beer is the world's most widely consumed andprobably oldest alcoholic beverage; it is the third most popular drink overall, after water and tea. It is produced by the brewing and fermentation of sugars, mainly derived from malted cereal grains, most commonly malted barley and malted wheat...

. Oatmeal stout is one variety brewed using a percentage of oats for the wort
Wort (brewing)
Wort, , is the liquid extracted from the mashing process during the brewing of beer or whisky. Wort contains the sugars that will be fermented by the brewing yeast to produce alcohol.- Production :...

. The more rarely used oat malt is produced by the Thomas Fawcett & Sons Maltings, and was used in the Maclay Oat Malt Stout before Maclays Brewery
Maclays Brewery
Maclay's Brewery was a Scottish brewery based in Alloa, Clackmannanshire until 2001.In 1830, James Maclay founded the brewery as James Maclay, Ale, Porter, Table and India Beer Brewer of Alloa...

 ceased independent brewing operations. A cold, sweet drink made of ground oats and milk is a popular refreshment throughout Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

. Oatmeal caudle
Caudle
A caudle is a British thickened and sweetened alcoholic hot drink, somewhat like eggnog. It was popular in the Middle Ages for its supposed medicinal properties.The OED cites the use of the word to 1297...

, made of ale and oatmeal with spices, was a traditional British drink and a favorite of Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader who overthrew the English monarchy and temporarily turned England into a republican Commonwealth, and served as Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland....

.

Historical attitudes towards oats have varied. Oat bread was first manufactured in England, where the first oat bread factory was established in 1899. In Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, they were, and still are, held in high esteem, as a mainstay of the national diet.

In Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, a dish called sowans
Sowans
Sowans or sowens is a Scottish dish made using the starch remaining on the inner husks of oats after milling. The husks are allowed to soak in water and ferment for a few days. The liquor is strained off and allowed to stand for a day to allow the starchy matter therein to settle. The liquid part,...

 was made by soaking the husks from oats for a week so that the fine, floury part of the meal remained as sediment to be strained off, boiled and eaten. Oats are also widely used there as a thickener in soups, as barley or rice might be used in other countries.

Oats are also commonly used as feed for horses—as crimped or rolled oats or as part of a blended food pellet. The oat hull must be crushed ("rolled" or "crimped") for the horse to digest the grain. Cattle are also fed oats, either whole, or ground into a coarse flour using a roller mill
Roller mill
Roller mills use cylindrical rollers to grind all sorts of materials rather than crushing them or grinding them between stones such as in a traditional grains mill. Roller mills are usually used for industrial grain milling and for grinding gravel into smaller rocks or pulverizing them...

, burr mill
Burr mill
A burr mill or burr grinder is a device to grind hard, small food products between two revolving abrasive surfaces separated by a distance usually set by the user. Usually the device includes a revolving screw that pushes the food through...

, or hammer mill.

Oat straw
Straw
Straw is an agricultural by-product, the dry stalks of cereal plants, after the grain and chaff have been removed. Straw makes up about half of the yield of cereal crops such as barley, oats, rice, rye and wheat. It has many uses, including fuel, livestock bedding and fodder, thatching and...

 is prized by cattle and horse producers as bedding, due to its soft, relatively dust-free, and absorbent nature. The straw can also be used for making corn dollies
Corn dolly
Corn dollies or corn mothers are a form of straw work made as part of harvest customs of Europe before mechanization.Before Christianisation, in traditional pagan European culture it was believed that the spirit of the corn lived amongst the crop, and that the harvest made it effectively homeless...

. Tied in a muslin bag, oat straw was used to soften bath water.

Oat extract can also be used to soothe skin conditions. It is the principal ingredient for the Aveeno
Aveeno
Aveeno is a manufacturer of skin care and hair care products in the United States and is a subsidiary of American consumer goods and pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson. Aveeno was founded in 1945, and its first product was their Soothing Bath Treatment...

 line of products.

Oat grass has been used traditionally for medicinal purposes, including to help balance the menstrual cycle
Menstrual cycle
The menstrual cycle is the scientific term for the physiological changes that can occur in fertile women for the purpose of sexual reproduction. This article focuses on the human menstrual cycle....

, treat dysmenorrhea
Dysmenorrhea
Dysmenorrhea is a gynecological medical condition of pain during menstruation that interferes with daily activities, as defined by ACOG and others. Still, dysmenorrhea is often defined simply as menstrual pain, or at least menstrual pain that is excessive...

, and for osteoporosis
Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a disease of bones that leads to an increased risk of fracture. In osteoporosis the bone mineral density is reduced, bone microarchitecture is deteriorating, and the amount and variety of proteins in bone is altered...

 and urinary tract infections.

Health

Oats are generally considered "healthy", or a health food
Health food
The term health food is generally used to describe foods that are considered to be beneficial to health, beyond a normal healthy diet required for human nutrition. However, the term is not precisely defined by national regulatory agencies such as the U.S...

, being touted commercially as nutritious. The discovery of the healthy cholesterol
Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a complex isoprenoid. Specifically, it is a waxy steroid of fat that is produced in the liver or intestines. It is used to produce hormones and cell membranes and is transported in the blood plasma of all mammals. It is an essential structural component of mammalian cell membranes...

-lowering properties has led to wider appreciation of oats as human food.

Soluble fibre

Oat bran
Bran
Bran is the hard outer layer of grain and consists of combined aleurone and pericarp. Along with germ, it is an integral part of whole grains, and is often produced as a by-product of milling in the production of refined grains. When bran is removed from grains, the grains lose a portion of their...

 is the outer casing of the oat. Its consumption is believed to lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol
Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a complex isoprenoid. Specifically, it is a waxy steroid of fat that is produced in the liver or intestines. It is used to produce hormones and cell membranes and is transported in the blood plasma of all mammals. It is an essential structural component of mammalian cell membranes...

, and possibly to reduce the risk of heart disease
Heart disease
Heart disease, cardiac disease or cardiopathy is an umbrella term for a variety of diseases affecting the heart. , it is the leading cause of death in the United States, England, Canada and Wales, accounting for 25.4% of the total deaths in the United States.-Types:-Coronary heart disease:Coronary...

.

Oats contain more soluble fibre than any other grain, resulting in slower digestion and an extended sensation of fullness. One type of soluble fibre, beta-glucan
Beta-glucan
β-Glucans are polysaccharides of D-glucose monomers linked by β-glycosidic bonds. β-glucans are a diverse group of molecules that can vary with respect to molecular mass, solubility, viscosity, and three-dimensional configuration...

s, has proven to help lower cholesterol.

After reports of research finding that dietary oats can help lower cholesterol, an "oat bran craze" swept the U.S. in the late 1980s, peaking in 1989, when potato chip
Potato chip
Potato chips are thin slices of potato that are deep fried...

s with added oat bran were marketed. The food fad was short-lived and faded by the early 1990s. The popularity of oatmeal and other oat products again increased after the January 1998 decision by the Food and Drug Administration
Food and Drug Administration
The Food and Drug Administration is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, one of the United States federal executive departments...

 (FDA), when it issued its final rule allowing a health claim
Health claims on food labels
Health claims on food labels are claims by manufacturers of food products that their food will reduce the risk of developing a disease or condition...

 to be made on the labels of foods containing soluble fibre from whole oats (oat bran, oat flour and rolled oats), noting that 3.00 grams of soluble fibre daily from these foods may reduce the risk of heart disease
Heart disease
Heart disease, cardiac disease or cardiopathy is an umbrella term for a variety of diseases affecting the heart. , it is the leading cause of death in the United States, England, Canada and Wales, accounting for 25.4% of the total deaths in the United States.-Types:-Coronary heart disease:Coronary...

. To qualify for the health claim, the whole oat-containing food must provide at least 0.75 grams of soluble fibre per serving. The soluble fibre in whole oats comprises a class of polysaccharide
Polysaccharide
Polysaccharides are long carbohydrate molecules, of repeated monomer units joined together by glycosidic bonds. They range in structure from linear to highly branched. Polysaccharides are often quite heterogeneous, containing slight modifications of the repeating unit. Depending on the structure,...

s known as beta-D-glucans.

Beta-D-glucans, usually referred to as beta-glucans, comprise a class of indigestible polysaccharides widely found in nature in sources such as grains, barley
Barley
Barley is a major cereal grain, a member of the grass family. It serves as a major animal fodder, as a base malt for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods...

, yeast
Yeast
Yeasts are eukaryotic micro-organisms classified in the kingdom Fungi, with 1,500 species currently described estimated to be only 1% of all fungal species. Most reproduce asexually by mitosis, and many do so by an asymmetric division process called budding...

, bacteria
Bacteria
Bacteria are a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals...

, algae
Algae
Algae are a large and diverse group of simple, typically autotrophic organisms, ranging from unicellular to multicellular forms, such as the giant kelps that grow to 65 meters in length. They are photosynthetic like plants, and "simple" because their tissues are not organized into the many...

 and mushroom
Mushroom
A mushroom is the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus, typically produced above ground on soil or on its food source. The standard for the name "mushroom" is the cultivated white button mushroom, Agaricus bisporus; hence the word "mushroom" is most often applied to those fungi that...

s. In oats, barley and other cereal grains, they are located primarily in the endosperm
Endosperm
Endosperm is the tissue produced inside the seeds of most flowering plants around the time of fertilization. It surrounds the embryo and provides nutrition in the form of starch, though it can also contain oils and protein. This makes endosperm an important source of nutrition in human diet...

 cell wall
Cell wall
The cell wall is the tough, usually flexible but sometimes fairly rigid layer that surrounds some types of cells. It is located outside the cell membrane and provides these cells with structural support and protection, and also acts as a filtering mechanism. A major function of the cell wall is to...

.

Oat beta-glucan is a soluble fibre. It is a viscous polysaccharide made up of units of the monosaccharide D-glucose
Glucose
Glucose is a simple sugar and an important carbohydrate in biology. Cells use it as the primary source of energy and a metabolic intermediate...

. Oat beta-glucan is composed of mixed-linkage polysaccharides. This means the bonds
Chemical bond
A chemical bond is an attraction between atoms that allows the formation of chemical substances that contain two or more atoms. The bond is caused by the electromagnetic force attraction between opposite charges, either between electrons and nuclei, or as the result of a dipole attraction...

 between the D-glucose or D-glucopyranosyl units are either beta-1, 3 linkages or beta-1, 4 linkages. This type of beta-glucan is also referred to as a mixed-linkage (1→3), (1→4)-beta-D-glucan. The (1→3)-linkages break up the uniform structure of the beta-D-glucan molecule and make it soluble and flexible. In comparison, the indigestible polysaccharide cellulose
Cellulose
Cellulose is an organic compound with the formula , a polysaccharide consisting of a linear chain of several hundred to over ten thousand β linked D-glucose units....

 is also a beta-glucan, but is not soluble. The reason it is insoluble is that cellulose consists only of (1→4)-beta-D-linkages. The percentages of beta-glucan in the various whole oat products are: oat bran, greater than 5.5% and up to 23.0%; rolled oats, about 4%; and whole oat flour about 4%.

Oats, after corn (maize
Maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

), have the highest lipid
Lipid
Lipids constitute a broad group of naturally occurring molecules that include fats, waxes, sterols, fat-soluble vitamins , monoglycerides, diglycerides, triglycerides, phospholipids, and others...

 content of any cereal, e.g., greater than 10% for oats and as high as 17% for some maize cultivars compared to about two to three percent for wheat and most other cereals. The polar lipid
Lipid
Lipids constitute a broad group of naturally occurring molecules that include fats, waxes, sterols, fat-soluble vitamins , monoglycerides, diglycerides, triglycerides, phospholipids, and others...

 content of oats (about 8–17% glycolipid and 10–20% phospholipid or a total of about 33%) is greater than that of other cereals, since much of the lipid fraction is contained within the endosperm.

Protein

Oats are the only cereal
Cereal
Cereals are grasses cultivated for the edible components of their grain , composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran...

 containing a globulin
Globulin
Globulin is one of the three types of serum proteins, the others being albumin and fibrinogen. Some globulins are produced in the liver, while others are made by the immune system. The term globulin encompasses a heterogeneous group of proteins with typical high molecular weight, and both...

 or legume-like protein, avenalin, as the major (80%) storage protein. Globulins are characterised by solubility in dilute saline. The more typical cereal proteins, such as gluten
Gluten
Gluten is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye...

 and zein
Zein
Zein is a class of prolamine protein found in maize. It is usually manufactured as a powder from corn gluten meal.-Commercial uses:Zein is one of the best understood plant proteins and has a variety of industrial and food uses...

, are prolamin
Prolamin
Prolamins are a group of plant storage proteins having a high proline content and found in the seeds of cereal grains: wheat , barley , rye , corn , sorghum and as a minor protein, avenin in oats. They are characterised by a high glutamine and proline content and are generally soluble only in...

es (prolamins). The minor protein of oat is a prolamine, avenin.

Oat protein is nearly equivalent in quality to soy protein
Soy protein
Soy protein is a protein that is isolated from soybean. It is made from dehulled, defatted soybean meal. Dehulled and defatted soybeans are processed into three kinds of high protein commercial products : soy flour, concentrates, and isolates. Soy protein isolate has been used since 1959 in foods ...

, which has been shown by the World Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health...

 to be equal to meat, milk, and egg protein. The protein content of the hull-less oat kernel (groat
Groats
Groats are the hulled grains of various cereals, such as oats, wheat, barley or buckwheat . Groats are whole grains that include the cereal germ and fiber-rich bran portion of the grain as well as the endosperm...

) ranges from 12 to 24%, the highest among cereals.

Coeliac disease

Coeliac
Coeliac disease
Coeliac disease , is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine that occurs in genetically predisposed people of all ages from middle infancy onward...

, or celiac, disease, is often associated with the ingestion of wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

, or more specifically, a group of proteins labelled prolamines, or more commonly, gluten
Gluten
Gluten is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye...

.
Oats lack many of the prolamines found in wheat; however, oats do contain avenin. Avenin is a prolamine that is toxic to the intestinal mucosa of avenin-sensitive individuals, and can trigger a reaction in these coeliacs.
The most recent research indicates that some cultivars of oat can be a safe part of a gluten-free diet, because different varieties of oat have different levels of toxicity. Although oats do contain avenin, there are several studies suggesting that this may not be problematic for all celiacs. The first such study was published in 1995. A follow-up study indicated it is safe to use oats even in a longer period.

Additionally, oats are frequently processed near wheat, barley and other grains, such that they become contaminated with other glutens. Because of this, the FAO
Fão
Fão is a town in Esposende Municipality in Portugal....

's Codex Alimentarius Commission officially lists them as a crop containing gluten. Oats from Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 and Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, where less wheat is grown, are less likely to be contaminated in this way.

Oats are part of a gluten-free diet in, for example, Finland and Sweden. In both countries, there are "pure oat" products on the market.

Agronomy

Oats are sown
Sowing
Sowing is the process of planting seeds.-Plants which are usually sown:Among the major field crops, oats, wheat, and rye are sowed, grasses and legumes are seeded, and maize and soybeans are planted...

 in the spring or early summer, as soon as the soil can be worked. An early start is crucial to good yields, as oats will go dormant during the summer heat. In warmer areas, oats are sown in late summer or early fall. Oats are cold-tolerant and will be unaffected by late frosts or snow.

Seeding rates

Typically, about 125 to 175 kg/hectare (between 2.75 and 3.25 bushels per acre) are sown, either broadcast, drilled
Seed drill
A seed drill is a sowing device that precisely positions seeds in the soil and then covers them. Before the introduction of the seed drill, the common practice was to plant seeds by hand. Besides being wasteful, planting was very imprecise and led to a poor distribution of seeds, leading to low...

, or planted using an air seeder. Lower rates are used when underseeding with a legume. Somewhat higher rates can be used on the best soils, or where there are problems with weeds. Excessive sowing rates will lead to problems with lodging and may reduce yields.

Winter oats may be grown as an off-season groundcover
Groundcover
Groundcover refers to any plant that grows over an area of ground, used to provide protection from erosion and drought, and to improve its aesthetic appearance .- Ecosystem :...

 and plowed under in the spring as a green fertilizer, grazed as winter forage, or harvested in early summer.

Fertilizer requirements

Oats remove substantial amounts of nitrogen
Nitrogen
Nitrogen is a chemical element that has the symbol N, atomic number of 7 and atomic mass 14.00674 u. Elemental nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and mostly inert diatomic gas at standard conditions, constituting 78.08% by volume of Earth's atmosphere...

 from the soil. They also remove phosphorus in the form of P2O5 at the rate of 0.25 pound per bushel per acre (1 bushel = 38 pounds at 12% moisture); Phosphate is thus applied at a rate of 30 to 40 kg/ha, or 30 to 40 lb/acre. Oats remove potash (K2O) at a rate of 0.19 pound per bushel per acre, which causes it to use 15–30 kg/ha, or 13–27 lb/acre. Usually, 50–100 kg/ha (45–90 pounds per acre) of nitrogen in the form of urea
Urea
Urea or carbamide is an organic compound with the chemical formula CO2. The molecule has two —NH2 groups joined by a carbonyl functional group....

 or anhydrous ammonia
Ammonia
Ammonia is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula . It is a colourless gas with a characteristic pungent odour. Ammonia contributes significantly to the nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms by serving as a precursor to food and fertilizers. Ammonia, either directly or...

 is sufficient, as oats use about one pound per bushel per acre. A sufficient amount of nitrogen is particularly important for plant height, and hence, straw quality and yield. When the prior-year crop was a legume, or where ample manure is applied, nitrogen rates can be reduced somewhat.

Weed control

The vigorous growth habit of oats will tend to choke out most weeds. A few tall broadleaf weeds, such as ragweed
Ragweed
Ragweeds are flowering plants in the genus Ambrosia in the sunflower family Asteraceae. Common names include bitterweeds and bloodweeds....

, goosegrass, wild mustard and buttonweed
Buttonweed
Diodia is a genus of flowering plants in the Rubiaceae family. It is native to temperate and tropical regions of North America and Africa.-Other Buttonweeds:...

 (velvetleaf), can occasionally be a problem, as they complicate harvest and reduce yields. These can be controlled with a modest application of a broadleaf herbicide, such as 2,4-D, while the weeds are still small.

Pests and diseases

Oats are relatively free from diseases and pests with the exception of the Andrew, such as leaf rust and stem rust
Stem rust
The stem, black or cereal rusts are caused by the fungus Puccinia graminis and are a significant disease affecting cereal crops. An epidemic of stem rust on wheat caused by race Ug99 is currently spreading across Africa, Asia and most recently into Middle East and is causing major concern due to...

. A few lepidoptera
Lepidoptera
Lepidoptera is a large order of insects that includes moths and butterflies . It is one of the most widespread and widely recognizable insect orders in the world, encompassing moths and the three superfamilies of butterflies, skipper butterflies, and moth-butterflies...

n caterpillar
Caterpillar
Caterpillars are the larval form of members of the order Lepidoptera . They are mostly herbivorous in food habit, although some species are insectivorous. Caterpillars are voracious feeders and many of them are considered to be pests in agriculture...

s feed on the plants—e.g. rustic shoulder-knot
Rustic Shoulder-knot
The Rustic Shoulder-knot is a moth of the family Noctuidae. It is distributed throughout Europe and is also found in North America....

 and setaceous Hebrew character moths
Setaceous Hebrew Character
The Setaceous Hebrew Character is a moth of the family Noctuidae. It is found in the Palearctic ecozone. It is a common species throughout Europe. It is also found in North America, from coast to coast across Canada and the northern United States to western Alaska. It occurs in the Rocky Mountains...

, but these rarely become a major pest. See also List of oats diseases.

Harvesting

Modern harvest technique is a matter of available equipment, local tradition, and priorities. Farmers seeking the highest yield from their crop time their harvest so the kernels have reached 35% moisture, or when the greenest kernels are just turning cream-color. They then harvest by swathing
Swather
A swather, or windrower, is a farm implement that cuts hay or small grain crops and forms them into a windrow. "Swather" is predominantly the North American term for these machines...

, cutting the plants at about 10 cm (4 inches) above ground, and putting the swathed plants into windrows with the grain all oriented the same way. They leave the windrows to dry in the sun for several days before combining them using a pickup header. Finally, they bale the straw.

Oats can also be left standing until completely ripe and then combined
Combine harvester
The combine harvester, or simply combine, is a machine that harvests grain crops. The name derives from the fact that it combines three separate operations, reaping, threshing, and winnowing, into a single process. Among the crops harvested with a combine are wheat, oats, rye, barley, corn ,...

 with a grain head. This will lead to greater field losses, as the grain falls from the heads, and to harvesting losses, as the grain is threshed out by the reel. Without a draper head, there will also be somewhat more age to the straw, since it will not be properly oriented as it enters the throat of the combine
Combine harvester
The combine harvester, or simply combine, is a machine that harvests grain crops. The name derives from the fact that it combines three separate operations, reaping, threshing, and winnowing, into a single process. Among the crops harvested with a combine are wheat, oats, rye, barley, corn ,...

. Overall yield loss is 10–15% compared to proper swathing.

Historical harvest methods involved cutting with a scythe or sickle, and threshing
Threshing
Threshing is the process of loosening the edible part of cereal grain from the scaly, inedible chaff that surrounds it. It is the step in grain preparation after harvesting and before winnowing, which separates the loosened chaff from the grain...

 under the feet of cattle. Late 19th and early 20th century harvesting was performed using a binder
Binder
The reaper-binder, or binder, was a farm implement that improved upon the reaper. The binder was invented in 1872 by Charles Withington. In addition to cutting the small-grain crop, it would also tie the stems into small bundles, or sheaves...

. Oats were gathered into shocks and then collected and run through a stationary threshing machine
Threshing machine
The thrashing machine, or, in modern spelling, threshing machine , was a machine first invented by Scottish mechanical engineer Andrew Meikle for use in agriculture. It was invented for the separation of grain from stalks and husks. For thousands of years, grain was separated by hand with flails,...

.

Storage

After combining, the oats are transported to the farmyard using a grain truck, semi
Semi
Semi- is a Latin prefix to a verb, noun, or adjective meaning "half". Some compounds formed with it are often abbreviated to simply "semi" in appropriate contexts:...

, or road train
Road train
A road train or roadtrain is a trucking concept used in remote areas of Argentina, Australia, Mexico, the United States and Canada to move freight efficiently. The term "road train" is most often used in Australia. In the U.S. and Canada the terms "triples," "turnpike doubles" and "Rocky Mountain...

, where they are auger
Auger
An auger is a drilling device, or drill bit, that usually includes a rotating helical screw blade called a "flighting" to act as a screw conveyor to remove the drilled out material...

ed or conveyed into a bin for storage. Sometimes, when there is not enough bin space, they are augered into portable grain rings, or piled on the ground. Oats can be safely stored at 12% moisture; at higher moisture levels, they must be aerated, or dried.

Yield and quality

In the United States, No.1 oats weigh 42 lb per bushel; No.3 oats must weigh at least 38 lb/bu. If over 36 lb/bu, they are graded as No.4, and oats under 36 lb/bu are graded as "light weight". In Canada, No.1 oats weigh 42.64 lb per bushel; No.2 oats must weigh 40.18 lb per bushel; No.3 oats must weigh at least 38.54 lb per bushel and if oats are lighter than 36.08 lb per bushel they do not make No.4 oats and have no grade.

Note, however, that oats are bought and sold, and yields are figured, on the basis of a bushel equal to 32 lb in the United States and a bushel equal to 34 lb in Canada. Yields range from 60 to 80 bushels per acre on marginal land, to 100 to 150 bushels per acre on high-producing land. The average production is 100 bushels per acre, or 3.5 tonnes per hectare.

Straw yields are variable, ranging from one to three tonnes per hectare, mainly due to available nutrients, and the variety used (some are short-strawed, meant specifically for straight combining).

Processing

Oats processing is a relatively simple process:

Cleaning and sizing

Upon delivery to the milling plant, chaff, rocks, other grains, and other foreign material are removed from the oats.

Dehulling

Separation of the outer hull from the inner oat groat is effected by means of centripetal acceleration. Oats are fed by gravity onto the center of a horizontally spinning stone, which accelerates them towards the outer ring. Groats and hulls are separated on impact with this ring. The lighter oat hulls are then aspirated away, while the denser oat groats are taken to the next step of processing. Oat hulls can be used as feed, processed further into insoluble oat fiber, or used as a biomass fuel.

Kilning

The unsized oat groats
Groats
Groats are the hulled grains of various cereals, such as oats, wheat, barley or buckwheat . Groats are whole grains that include the cereal germ and fiber-rich bran portion of the grain as well as the endosperm...

 will then pass through a heat and moisture treatment to balance moisture, but mainly to stabilize them. Oat groats are high in fat (lipids), and once removed from their protective hulls and exposed to air, enzymatic (lipase) activity begins to break down the fat into free fatty acids, ultimately causing an off flavor or rancidity. Oats will begin to show signs of enzymatic rancidity within four days of being dehulled if not stabilized. This process is primarily done in food grade plants, not in feed grade plants. Groats are not considered raw if they have gone through this process; the heat has disrupted the germ, and they will not sprout.

Sizing of groats

Many whole oat groats are broken during the dehulling process, leaving the following types of groats to be sized and separated for further processing: whole oat groats, coarse steel cut groats, steel cut groats and fine steel cut groats. Groats are sized and separated using screens, shakers and indent screens. After the whole oat groats are separated, the remaining broken groats get sized again into the 3 groups (coarse, regular, fine), and then stored. The term steel cut is referred to all sized or cut groats. When there are not enough broken to size for further processing, then whole oat groats get sent to a cutting unit with steel blades that will evenly cut the groats into the three sizes as discussed earlier.

Flaking

This process uses two large smooth or corrugated rolls spinning at the same speed in opposite directions at a controlled distance. Oat flakes, also known as rolled oats
Rolled oats
Rolled oats are traditionally oat groats that have been rolled into flat flakes under heavy rollers and then steamed and lightly toasted. The oat, like the other cereals, has a hard, inedible outer husk that must be removed before the grain can be eaten. After the outer husk has been removed from...

, have many different sizes, thicknesses and other characteristics depending on the size of oat groats passed between the rolls. Typically, the three sizes of steel cut oats are used to make instant, baby and quick rolled oats
Rolled oats
Rolled oats are traditionally oat groats that have been rolled into flat flakes under heavy rollers and then steamed and lightly toasted. The oat, like the other cereals, has a hard, inedible outer husk that must be removed before the grain can be eaten. After the outer husk has been removed from...

, whereas whole oat groats are used to make regular, medium and thick rolled oats. Oat flakes range from a thickness of 0.36 mm to 1.00 mm.

Oat bran milling

This process takes the oat groats through several roll stands to flatten and separate the bran from the flour (endosperm). The two separate products (flour and bran) get sifted through a gyrating sifter screen to further separate them. The final products are oat bran and debranned oat flour.

Whole flour milling

This process takes oat groats straight to a grinding unit (stone or hammer mill) and then over sifter screens to separate the coarse flour and final whole oat flour. The coarser flour gets sent back to the grinding unit until it is ground fine enough to be whole oat flour. This method is used often in India and other countries.

Oats futures

Oats futures
Futures exchange
A futures exchange or futures market is a central financial exchange where people can trade standardized futures contracts; that is, a contract to buy specific quantities of a commodity or financial instrument at a specified price with delivery set at a specified time in the future. These types of...

 are traded on the Chicago Board of Trade
Chicago Board of Trade
The Chicago Board of Trade , established in 1848, is the world's oldest futures and options exchange. More than 50 different options and futures contracts are traded by over 3,600 CBOT members through open outcry and eTrading. Volumes at the exchange in 2003 were a record breaking 454 million...

, and have delivery dates in March (H), May (K), July (N), September (U) and December (Z). Oat futures contracts are traded in units of 5,000 bushels of oats and the minimum fluctuation is 1⁄4 cent per bushel ($12.50 per contract), including spreads. There are also daily price limits set such that there will be no trading beyond $0.20 per bushel ($1,000 per contract) above or below the previous day’s settlement price.

See also

  • Export hay
    Export Hay
    Export hay is hay that is produced for export markets. In Australia, hay needs to meet a number of quality standards before it can be exported. Because hay in standard round and large square bales is not dense enough to be economically exported to overseas markets, export hay is normally processed...

  • Muesli
    Muesli
    Muesli is a popular breakfast cereal based on uncooked rolled oats, fruit and nuts. It was developed around 1900 by Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner for patients in his hospital...

  • Oat milk
  • Oatmeal
    Oatmeal
    Oatmeal is ground oat groats , or a porridge made from oats . Oatmeal can also be ground oat, steel-cut oats, crushed oats, or rolled oats....

  • Oatcake
    Oatcake
    An oatcake is a type of cracker or pancake, made from oatmeal, and sometimes flour as well. Oatcakes are cooked on a griddle or baked in an oven.- Scottish oatcakes :...

  • Porridge
    Porridge
    Porridge is a dish made by boiling oats or other cereal meals in water, milk, or both. It is usually served hot in a bowl or dish...

  • Mornflake Oats
  • Quaker Oats Company
    Quaker Oats Company
    The Quaker Oats Company is an American food conglomerate based in Chicago. It has been owned by Pepsico since 2001.-History:Quaker Oats was founded in 1901 by the merger of four oat mills:...

  • Rolled oats
    Rolled oats
    Rolled oats are traditionally oat groats that have been rolled into flat flakes under heavy rollers and then steamed and lightly toasted. The oat, like the other cereals, has a hard, inedible outer husk that must be removed before the grain can be eaten. After the outer husk has been removed from...

  • Steel-cut oats
    Steel-cut oats
    Steel-cut oats are whole grain groats which have been cut into only two or three pieces by steel rather than being rolled.-Overview:...


External links

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