Activity 5

Organic Oat Breeding / Oat cultivars specifically developed for organic production systems in Canada


Organic oat growers, processors and consumers continue to ask for cultivars developed for their unique systems and needs. Organically-produced versus conventionally-produced oat still fetches a premium price (, 2017). The project to develop milling quality oat cultivars suitable for organic production in western Canada will focus on the identification and evaluation of oat germplasm with high levels of genetically conferred disease resistance. The anticipated outcome is oat cultivars with disease resistance, especially to oat rusts, and hopefully with improved resistance to fusarium head blight. These oat cultivars will also have acceptable milling quality, suitable for organically managed production systems in western Canada, and for the ever-increasing organic markets.

In achieving this objective, this activity will address the Priority Research Areas identified by the Organic Sector (MacKenzie and Hammermeister, 2017):

“Increasing competitiveness through improvements in productivity, production stability and resiliency with climate extremes and/or quality of product, including: Breeding - Developing/identifying crop cultivars adapted to regional organic management, resilient to pest pressure, adapted to use nutrients efficiently” and “Pest (disease) management strategies - with an emphasis on prevention, for cereal crops (e.g. fusarium head blight, rusts etc.)”

Another identified area of Priority Research will be addressed: “Improving quality of organic products through improved nutritional value through management practices and cultivar selection”, achieved through the step-wise improvement of the nutritional quality of the developed organically-suited milling oat cultivars. Increases in nutritionally beneficial soluble fibre (β-glucan) and protein content will be made.

Developing disease resistant cultivars for organic oat production will also improve public good and environment health will be improved through reducing or eliminating fungicide use to combat disease in non-resistant cultivars.

MacKenzie, J. and A.M. Hammermeister. 2017. Canadian organic research needs and priorities: 2016-17 report. Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada, Dalhousie University, Halifax, CA. Prepared for the Organic Value Chain Roundtable. 42 pp. 2017. Organic Price Quotes: Late May.  May 30, 2017.  Retrieved May 30, 2017 from

Materials and Results


Activity Researchers

Name Affiliation
Kirby Nilsen (Activity Leader) AAFC
Dr. Jennifer Mitchell Fetch (retired)
Brandon Research and Development Centre
Dr. Tom Fetch Morden Research and Development Centre/Brandon Research and Development Centre
Dr. Jim Menzies Morden Research and Development Centre
Dr. Xiben Wang Morden Research and Development Centre
Dr. Curt McCartney Morden Research and Development Centre
Dr. Martin Entz Professor, Cropping Systems and Natural Systems Agriculture, Department of Plant Science, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB
Dr. Dean Spaner

Professor, Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences,

Agricultural Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB