Arable crops are grown for human consumption, feed for animals and used to produce malt for brewing.
The New Zealand climate is well suited to grain production. A large proportion of grain is grown in the Canterbury region; however oats are more commonly grown in Otago and Southland where the cooler damp climate and long summer daylight hours are ideal for the production of high yielding and uniform quality oats.
Soil structure is very important and the heavy soils that retain moisture in Southland and West Otago allow crop root systems to grow down deep so the plants can pick up moisture in the drier months of late summer. The strong spring winds assist crops to establish good roots which helps develop a fine plant.
Planting generally occurs from late Sept to mid Oct (95%) although some is autumn sown.
Oat cultivars over time tend to revert to more historic strains resulting in reduced yield and variable grain size. Oat cultivars require constant improvement to maintain high quality and high yield oats varieties.
The Oat Industry Group has established a seed breeding programme. Ongoing research, trials and workshops occur, and research is cooperatively funded by Harraways and all growers to promote and produce natural cultivars that allow high yield and uniformity of grains. To find out more about this group please contact Harraways.
After planting, the crop grows quickly and an application of fertiliser maximises growth so when the dry of summer commences the plant naturally slows growth in order to develop the seeds.
Crops in the region do not require irrigation as rain fall is 800-1000 mm per annum.
Harvest occurs in March when the crop is completely ripe. Harvesting is mechanical. Using a Combine harvester which cuts and feeds the oat stalk through to a revolving drum (1500rpm) to separate the grain and straw. Air vents sieves grain from straw and chaff.
The Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) promotes research into the growing and harvest of crops, weed control & effective growth regulators (fungicides). This organisation assists grain production throughout New Zealand and is not specific to oats.
After harvest stock are released to graze on the stubble and strip grazing helps prevent compaction of the soil. Light ploughing occurs in late July or August to prevent soil compaction ready for crops to be sown in September. Oats are a good rotational crop.
Oats are stored in clean bunkers and silos until they are transported to the mill for processing. Oats do not require any special storage other than dry cool clean conditions.