Ontario Grain Farmer April/May 2022

yield and quality in the next five years to identify one or more lines that are eligible for registration as new cultivars. When looking at quality in the visual selection stage Yan and his team look at seeds. Seeds must be good looking; big, plump, and white as those are traits growers like. Test weight needs to be heavy, and the kernels must be uniform. In the yield trial stage, beta-glucan and groat percentage are added as selection criteria. Yan shares “if the growers want to sell to Quaker, the oats must have high-enough beta-glucan or Quaker won’t take them. Also, Quaker wants small hulls, as too much material is lost during milling when oats have a large hull.” Hulless oats might be a solution at some point, however millers don’t currently buy hulless oats and there are not many hulless oats grown in Canada due to poor yields. In the first year of yield trials, the lines are placed at four different locations. By the second year the lines are narrowed down to roughly 60 which will be placed at more locations for testing. “By the third year of yield trials I will have a pretty good idea on which lines are useful,” says Yan. The lines that made the cut are placed into registration trials. Three years of yield data from these trials are required for registration in Ontario and Quebec. And finally, after approximately 10 years, one or two good lines can be pulled out which have better qualities and higher yield than the checks. Yan then asks for registration support from the Ontario Cereal Crop Committee. If a variety is supported, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada will advertise that they have a new cultivar available to companies for licensing. RUST RESISTANCE Yan’s breeding program focuses on rust resistance, developing varieties for different regions in eastern Canada. Rust resistance is very important in southern Ontario, without 24 WHEN THINKING OFoats, oatmeal, feed, and cover crops come to mind. Weikai Yan, oat breeder at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Ottawa, works to develop oat varieties that can be used in both feed and food industries. Developing a new oat variety takes approximately 10 years. Yan begins by making 50 to 100 new crosses in a greenhouse, which produces approximately 10,000 individual offspring. In the second and third years he advances the plants in a greenhouse, cultivating three generations a year without selection. In the third year he plants the individual plants in a field and begins to make visual selections; selected lines are grown in larger plots in the fourth year and visually selected again. Throughout the process important breeding objectives such as plant height and architecture, lodging, maturity, and grain quality are studied. The goal is to select roughly 200 to 300 lines that will be tested in multi-location yield trials and selected for Oats to oatmeal A LOOK AT BREEDING AND PRODUCING OATS Laura Ferrier Research