Newswise — Saskatchewan oat producers are sowing $500,000 in University of Saskatchewan research into high-yielding and disease-resistant oat varieties.

The Saskatchewan Oat Development Commission (SODC) will provide $100,000 per year over five years to the U of S Crop Development Centre (CDC) and plant sciences department to hire research technicians, train summer students, and fund graduate students in oat agronomy, pathology, plant breeding, and genomics.

"Oat research and development, especially the development of varieties well-adapted to western Canadian growing conditions, is critical to our long-term success," says SODC Chair Dwayne Anderson. "It's vital that researchers continue to improve and develop new varieties suited for both human and animal food."

"Saskatchewan oat producers are now truly one of our research partners and are more closely involved in maximizing R&D's benefit to the oat industry," adds CDC oat and barley breeder Brian Rossnagel. "We are extremely proud that the SODC has chosen to invest in our U of S program to help continue to improve the bottom line for Saskatchewan oat producers." The new research funded by SODC builds on the U of S's history of outstanding oat research into varieties with exceptionally high milling quality for the oat food market.

"It's extremely important that we work together with all those involved in the western Canadian oat industry, from the farmers to the millers," says plant sciences agronomist Steve Shirtliffe. "The feedback and support we receive from our research partners and supporters such as SODC are critical to future planning and the success of our oat R&D programs."

Established within the U of S plant sciences department in 1971, the CDC is a nationally renowned centre of excellence in crop research. The CDC seeks to increase diversification of crops and their products for the farmers and agriculture industry of Saskatchewan by improving existing crops, creating new uses for traditional crops, and developing new crops.

Formed in 2006, the SODC represents farmers who allocate 50 cents per metric tonne from Saskatchewan-grown oats sales to support research and development into new market opportunities, higher quality crops, and improved yields.