Let's Grow Some Oats

Quote of the Day

(1) You have to fight when you already feel defeated;(2) You have to delay gratification; (3) You have to make mistakes, look like an idiot, and try again — without even flinching; (4) You have to keep your emotions in check; (5) You have to make the calls you’re afraid to make; (6) You have to trust your gut; (7) You have to lead when no one else follows; (8) You have to focus on the details even when it makes your mind numb; (9) You have to be kind to people who are rude to you; (10) You have to be accountable for your actions, no matter what."

Travis Bradbury on what constitutes mental strength.


Figure 1: Oat Grains (Wikipedia).

Figure 1: Oat Grains (Wikipedia).

I am going to grow and process some oats this year. This is a project that I have been interested in doing for a while because one of my sons is now in the oat business and he has shown some interest in working through the entire oat processing cycle. As a boy, I used to mill oats on the family farm, but I remember very little of that time.

I am fortunate because one of my brothers is a farmer who grows oats as a cover crop in the corners of his center pivot irrigation systems, so I have access to some land to cultivate, harvest, and process a small amount of oats.

My plan is to grow enough oats to make a 20 lb bag of oat flour. A little math shows me that 10 m x 10 m oat garden should be enough (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Oat Planting Area Required for 20 lbs of Flour.

Figure 2: Oat Planting Area Required for 20 lbs of Flour.

In addition to my area calculation, I wanted to gather a bit of information on oat production in the US. The USDA Statistical Service provides an excellent resource for this type of information.  Using Power Query, I grabbed some data from the USDA records for 2016, 2017, and 2018. Table 1 shows a quick summary of the US oat production data from the USDA records. For those who are interested, my Excel workbook is here.

Table 1: US Oat Production Summary Statistics.

Table 1: US Oat Production Summary Statistics.

Note that most of the oats planted in the US are not harvested. This is because they are used as a cover crop – a crop planted to manage the land and not for production.  By land management, I mean things like erosion control and replacing soil nutrients. In fact, I know what farmer who referred to oats as "green manure."

"Oat Defnition of Bushel
 
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