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OATS.

I. HARVESTING AND USES.

417. Time and Method of Harvesting.—The evidence appears to be that oats may be cut when one-half the leaves are still green and the grain in the early dough, without materially injuring the chemical composition or the yield of grain, and that the yield and quality of the straw may be increased provided the sheaves are immediately shocked and capped to permit slow curing and ripening.1 (161) Cutting in the hard dough stage and slow curing in round shocks is generally desirable, but when weeds abound or for other reasons rapid curing is necessary, long shocks are better. Oats may be cut for hay while the grain is in the milk stage with mowing machine and treated as any other hay crop, or may be cut with self-binding harvester and put in round shocks of six bundles each, with one bundle for a cap. The methods of harvesting, threshing and storing of oats are similar to those of wheat. (162, 167, 168, 169) The Ohio Station found the shrinkage of grain between September and March of fifty-five varieties to be less than one per cent, and of a sample of baled oat straw during the same period about six per cent.2 Michigan Station obtained similar results with the grain two years, and a loss of three per cent another year.3

418. Uses.—Oats are the chief grain food for horses, and are equally acceptable to and desirable for cattle and sheep, but

1 11i. Bui. 31; Kan. Buls. 13, 29, 54.

2 Ohio Bui. 57 (1894), p. in.

• Mich. Bui. 191 (1901), p. 169.

are not as largely used for these classes of live stock because of the relatively high price as compared with other concentrates. They are not adapted to swine, because of their high percentage of crude fiber due to the hull. Oats are used largely in connection with and interchangeably with maize. If one is more plentiful, and, therefore, cheaper than the other, it is used more abundantly. Hence in considering the possibility of a rise or fall in price of either, the combined yield of the two cereals must be ascertained. In the Southern States, where it is difficult to grow our tame grasses for pasturage and hay, special varieties have been developed for this purpose. (387) When cut in the milk and properly cured they make a palatable and nutritious food for domestic animate. (383)

Oat straw is preferred to wheat and rye straw as food for cattle aitd sheep, and by some for bedding, although it will not last as long, hence is less generally purchased for this purpose. It is less valuable than either for the manufacture of paper.

419. Oats for Human Food.—As prepared for human food, they are the most nutritious of our cereals. The consumption of oatmeal has increased enormously in recent years, and has led to the introduction of many other forms of so-called breakfast foods. Oatmeal is especially adapted to people living in northern climates or those having plenty of outdoor exercise. It is said that in eastern Scotland the unmarried plowmen lived solely on oatmeal and milk, except in the winter, when they sometimes got potatoes. They were allowed seventeen and one-half pounds of oatmeal weekly, and three to four pints of milk daily. This formed their sole diet, with no other cooking than boiling water stirred into the meal. These men were strong and healthy. The witty Dr. Johnson sarcastically remarked: "Oats is a grain fed to horses in England, but eaten by men in Scotland." "Yes,"' said a Scotchman, "and I have noticed that they grow the best of horses in England and the oest ot men in Scotland"

420. By-Products.—About the only manufacturing industry based upon the oat grain is the oatmeal industry, and about the only by-product is the hull. Oat huHs are largely used to adulterate maize meal, when it frequently passes for maize and oatmeal under the name of corn and oat feed. These oat hulls have but little food value. (383)

II. PRODUCTION AND MARKETING.

421. Oat Crop of the World.—The production of oats in the world has varied during the five years 1898 to 1902 inclusive from 2,806 millions (1901) to 3,561 millions (1902) per annum, the average annual production being 3,131 million bushels. The following table shows the average annual production for five years by continents in million bushels:

1898-1902

Europe 2,103

North America ...... 944

Asia 52

Australasia 25

Africa 7

Total 3,131

The production exceeds wheat and about equals maize in bushels but is less than either in pounds. The production in bushels of oats in Canada is about twice that of wheat. Ontario produces more oats than any State of the United States except Illinois and Iowa. Oats are only sparingly cultivated in South America.

422. Oat Crop of the United States.—Oats stand third in acreage and value of product and second in number of bushels of the cereals of the United States. The annual production for the three decades, 1870-79, 1880-89 and 1890-99, is given as follows:

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About one-tenth the area in field and garden crops, not counting pasture, is in oats, thirty-seven per cent of the farms reporting this crop. The value per acre is less than any other important cereal crop and like other cereals is decreasing in value. Ten States produced eighty per cent of the oat crop in 1900, all but New York and Pennsylvania being North Central States. Probably three-fourths of the oats of the United States are produced north of the fortieth parallel and east of the tooth meridian.

423. Yield per Acre.—The average annual yield per acre of oats during the decade 1893-1902 was 27.8 bushels. The areas of maximum production per acre in 1899 embraced the northern parts of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois and parts of Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, the yield being more than thirty-six bushels per acre. The yield per acre in the South Atlantic division was less than ten bushels over nearly one-half the area, and with a few exceptions did not exceed twenty bushels. Sixty to seventy-five bushels of oats is considered a good yield and forty to fifty bushels a fairly satisfactory yield in the Northern States. In Canada the yield per acre is considerably higher than in the United States, 100 bushels per acre being frequently reported.

424. Progress of Oat Production.—The production of oats has about doubled in proportion to population during the last half of the century. The production rose between 1880 and

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1890 from about 400 million to 800 million, the most phenomenal increase in the production of any crop in America at any period.

425. Center of Production.—The center of production of oats

Relative Increase in the population and in the production has shifted westward of oats in the United States during a half century. ftn(j northward, aS is

shown by the fact that while New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio were the center of the crop in 1850, now (1900) the concentration is in Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. This represents a movement in the last half century of a little less than 120 miles northward (to 410 39' 15" N. Lat.) and about 575 miles westward (to 91°8' 11" W. Long.). This shows a northward movement of oat production twenty-one miles more than of wheat and 115 miles more than of maize, while the westward movement has been ninety-five miles more than of maize and 105 miles less than of wheat.

The increasing use to which maize is being put as feed for milch cows is largely responsible for the relatively decreased area devoted to oat production in some States, as is shown by the fact that the majority of the States which reported decreased acreages in oats reported increased acreages in maize. These States were principally in the dairy sections.

426. Export of Oats.—The quantity of oats exported is small compared with wheat or maize, although increasing relatively

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Map showing the production of oats in the United States in 1900.

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