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Oat Variety Trial for Forage Production (RSVT)

Project Site: Fairview Research Farm

Research Program Manager: Dr. Akim Omokanye

From: Peace Country Beef & Forage Association 2018 Annual Report


The economic value of cereal forage for feeding beef cattle is dependent on both its yield and feeding value (i.e., crude protein, minerals, detergent fibre, energy, digestibility and animal performance). Oats is one of the cereals widely grown for forages in the Peace. PCBFA continues to carry out field trials for the purpose of identifying oat varieties that have better forage production for livestock producers in the Peace. As part of the Regional Silage Variety Trials (RSVTs), several new oat varieties as they become available are tested along with older ones for adaption, forage yield and quality. The RSVTs generate and provide scientifically sound oat variety performance information to livestock producers, industry and extension specialists. In addition to the findings of the oat variety trial from Fairview being presented here, the results from the RSVTs across the different trial sites in the province will also be reported in the Alberta Seed Guide (www.seed.ab.ca).

Methods

The study site was at the Fairview Research Farm (NW5-82-3W6) on RR #35, MD of Fairview. The site had been in alfalfa hay for more than 15 years. The site was sprayed with Roundup and plowed in the fall before. This was later disced and harrowed in the spring before seeding. Soil tests at 0-6” showed an organic matter of 7.6 %, a pH of 6.9 and an electrical conductivity of 0.2 dS/m.

Twelve (12) forage type oat varieties were arranged in a randomized complete block design in 4 replications in small plots. The 12 varieties tested are:

1. Murphy - forage oat (used as check in this study)

2. CDC Seabiscuit - milling oat, medium maturing

3. CDC SO-I (Super Oat number 1) - feed/forage oat

4. AC Morgan - milling oat, but commonly used for silage or green feed

5. CDC Haymaker - forage oat

6. Waldern - feed oat

7. CDC Baler - forage oat

8. ORe3542M - white hulled milling oat, medium maturing

9. AAC Oravena - developed specifically for organic growers

10. CDC Ruffian - milling oat

11. Derby - general purpose, milling

12. AC Juniper - general purpose

Seeding was done on May 25th with a 6-row plot drill at 9” row spacing.

Fertility according to soil test recommendations for balanced crop nutrition for average oat production was 147 lb N + 43 lb P + 46 lb K + 16 lb S and applied at seeding.

Roundup was used for burn off. In-crop spraying was done on June 19th with 0.17 L/acre Prestige XC A+ 0.80 L/acre Prestige XC B. Hand weeding was done once on July 4th.

Harvesting for forage dry matter (DM) yield determination and quality analysis was done on August 14th at the milk stage from an area of 1.67 m2. Two composite forage samples were sent to A & L laboratory in Ontario for quality determination.

The data for forage yield and quality were analyzed with ARM statistical software.

Results and Implications

Growth and Lodging

Murphy, CDC Baler, CDC Haymaker and Oravena oats appeared to be taller than other oats. Generally, even with the taller varieties, all oats stood up well and no lodging was observed.

Forage Moisture Content and Yield

The forage moisture content at harvest averaged 68.8%, with a range of 65.5% for CDC Baler to 75.8% for AC Morgan.

Our results show that ORe3542M had the highest forage DM yield, followed by AC Juniper and then CDC Seabiscuit in that order (Figure 1). Waldern , CDC SO-I and AC Morgan varieties were in the bottom 3. AC Morgan had 1402-3692 lbs DM/acre less than other oats. The highest forage DM yielder in this study, ORe3542M, is a white milling oat, which is medium maturing with strong straw and crown rust resistance.


Forage Quality

The forage crude protein (CP) was mostly 10% and above, with only Murphy, AC Morgan and Ore 3542M being able to meet the CP requirements of a mature beef cow. Other varieties were mostly sufficient for a dry gestating beef cow that requires 7-9% CP.


The forage total digestible nutrients (TDN) is one of the 6 measures for energy. Energy gives the ability to use the building blocks for growth and other productive purposes. The oats generally had >60% TDN, indicating that they had sufficient energy (in the form of TDN) for a dry gestating beef cow, which is 55% in mid-pregnancy and 60% at late-pregnancy. However, only CDC Seabiscuit, CDC Haymaker, Waldern, Oravena, Ruffian, Derby and AC Juniper were able to meet the 65% TDN required by lactating beef cows

With the exception of Cu, all varieties had adequate Ca, P, K , Mg, Na, S, Fe, Zn and Mn for a dry gestating beef cow. For a lactating beef cow, however, none of the varieties had sufficient Ca and P.


Conclusion

ORe3542M oats produced the highest forage DM yield, followed by AC Juniper and then CDC Seabiscuit. ORe3542M oats is a white milling oat, which is medium maturing with strong straw and crown rust resistance. AC Morgan oats had lower forage DM yield than other varieties, producing 1402-3692 lbs DM/acre less than other oats. Most of the varieties had sufficient protein for a dry gestating beef cow and some we able to provide the 11% CP needed by a lactating beef cow. Similarly, energy was generally enough for a dry gestating beef cow, but only a few varieties had adequate energy for a nursing beef cow. The varieties were all short of meeting the Cu requirements of all categories of beef cattle.

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