Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Planting "naked" oats

Over the last 3 days we planted about 48 acres of "naked" or hull-less oats. Oats are a huge staple and are in high demand locally. Most oats have a hull that must be removed before rolling. Once the hull is removed the oats begin to go rancid unless they are toasted or steamed. The de-hulling and toasting of the oats requires specialized machinery that only a few companies in Oregon possess. One company is Grain Millers out of Eugene. They are very large and can handle lots of volume, unfortunately they can't process "on spec." Basically that means they can't contract process. Once we deliver the oats that's it, they are mixed in with their other oats and we get the standard price per ton, which at 160-170 dollars is pretty low. We started looking around for other options and heard about hull-less oats from another grower. The advantage of hull-less oats is that they have no hull, so require less processing. They do not go rancid once rolled, or so I'm told. This eliminates a lot of steps in the processing chain. We know a small processor that can handle the rolling of the oats, which is great because that allows us to market them locally for a better price. We started looking around for the seed stock and found that hull-less oats are hard to find in quantity. We ordered about 10,000 pounds and split them with another grower. We think this variety, being from another region, will need a season or two of acclimatizing before we get decent yields. We planted our 48 acres at around 115 pounds per acre. We have no idea what they will yield. These oats have a lot of potential, and we are looking forward to watching them grow.

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