As the export oat hay industry expands, there is higher demand for oat hay varieties with adaptation across a wide range of environments and more discerning quality than previously. A National Oat Breeding Program was initiated to meet the challenge of improving oat varieties for hay production in Australia’s southern region, encompassing WA, SA, VIC, and southern NSW. The National Oat Breeding Program is based at SARDI’s Waite Campus, while a selection program, technical staff, and centre for oat quality research is located in DPIRD, Northam in WA. Hay trial sites are located in WA, SA, VIC and NSW.
The research aims to provide growers in traditional and non-traditional oat-growing regions with oat varieties with high gross margins. Traits to achieve the aims are high hay yield potential, enhanced hay quality, and combinations of disease resistance. The release of better oat hay varieties is essential to meet expectations of growers, exporters and consumers. This will be achieved by coordinating a National Oat Breeding Program that develops and characterises new oat varieties for the major oat hay-growing regions. The process of consulting growers and industry that had constraints using past varieties helped to formulate breeding priorities. It resulted in the rapid uptake of newly released varieties: about 90% in the eastern states and 40% in WA. Customers of export oat hay will also
benefit by having a consistent fodder product.