Oats payy off at Narrogin

Headshot of Jenne Brammer
Jenne BrammerThe West Australian

Oats are back in favour and Highbury farmer Ashley Wiese is a passionate supporter, planning to almost double his oat program in 2015.

Mr Wiese, who farms with wife Jo, said he planned to grow 2360ha of milling oats for grain and hay in 2015, up from 1400ha in 2014.

The vast jump in plantings is because of his confidence over the price.

"We have seen a rapid increase in demand for oats for human consumption, particularly from China," he said.

"This has been beneficial for the price and I expect that trend will continue in coming years."

Mr Wiese said because he had been growing milling oats in recent years, recent changes to CBH's Oats2 stack to focus on these oats would have little direct impact on his operation.

But he welcomed the move, given the industry as a whole would benefit from focusing its oat production towards human consumption.

"As an industry we need to sort our varieties, tidy them up and focus our oats on human consumption as that is where the real value is going forward," he said.

"It is important that we preserve all milling oats as milling, so that we can extract the greatest value from the market."

Mr Wiese said oats had always been a big part of their cropping program.

They grow well in his area, south of Narrogin, and a major benefit is the lower frost susceptibility compared to wheat, which allows for earlier planting.

Mr Wiese usually dry-sows his oats in mid April. which he said also reduced reliance on September finishing rains and helped with weed control.

In 2015, the new high-yielding Williams variety will represent 100 per cent of the Wieses' oats program. "We have been growing Williams for a few years now in trials," Mr Wiese said.

Last year, his Williams crop, totalling 1204ha, averaged 4.1 tonnes/ha in what he described as a "perfect season." His 10-year average for oats is closer 3.3t/ha.

"Williams also has very good Septoria resistance which is a major disease of some of the other varieties," Mr Wiese said.

"It's really exciting that we're seeing this increase in demand at the same time that we have access to a high-quality milling variety, that is high yielding as well."

Mr Wiese said he had also grown the Williams oat variety as a hay crop and results were good.

"The potential for this variety, and Bannister, to be dual-purpose hay and milling oats is exciting," he said.

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