The wild ancestor of Avena sativa and the closely-related minor crop, A. byzantina, is the hexaploid wild oat A. sterilis. Genetic evidence shows that the ancestral forms of A. sterilis grow in the Fertile Crescent of the Near East. Domesticated oats appear relatively late, and far from the Near East, inBronze Age Europe. Oats, like rye, are usually considered a secondary crop, i.e. derived from a weed of the primary cereal domesticates wheat and barley. As these cereals spread westwards into cooler, wetter areas, this may have favoured the oat weed component, leading to its eventual domestication.
Top Ten Oats Producers — 2005 (million metric ton)
United States 1.7
Oats are grown throughout the temperate zones. They have a lower summer heat requirement and greater tolerance of rain than other cereals like wheat, rye or barley, so are particularly important in areas with cool, wet summers such as Northwest Europe, even being grown successfully in Iceland. Oats are an annual plant, and can be planted either in autumn (for late summer harvest) or in the spring (for early autumn harvest).
Historical attitudes towards oats vary. Oat bread was first manufactured in England, where the first oat bread factory was established in 1899. In Scotland they were, and still are, held in high esteem, as a mainstay of the national diet. The English lexicographer Samuel Johnson, famously wrote in A Dictionary of the English Languagethat the oat was a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people, to which the Scottish riposte is "and England has the finest horses, and Scotland the finest men".
Oats ranks sixth or seventh by area and importance in the world after wheat, maize, rice, barley and sorghum. In some countries, such as Finland, it ranks second, and in Bulgaria it ranks fifth. Oats are mainly grown for grain, but can also be used as a whole crop for green forage or silage. Europe is the place where oats is grown on the greatest area; North America ranks second and Africa last. In Europe, most oats are grown in the Russian Federation, Poland, Ukraine, Finland and Spain
Potential of oats as forage?
The dry mass yield and nutritive value of forages are a determining factor for the farmer when choosing forages. These characteristics depend on the species and composition of forages, climatic and soil conditions, the suitability for intensive growing, mode of use and many other factors. The lower nutritive value of oats compared with silage maize, wheat or barley has often been strongly emphasized as a cause for the decrease in the area and interest in oats as feed and forage. The nutritive value of oats almost equals that of triticale and rye, in terms of the net energy content per kilogram of dry matter at the same developmental stage (milk stage). However, it is about 70 percent of that of maize, 80-85 percent of that of barley and 90 percent of that of wheat
Rolled or crushed into oatmeal,
oat flour. Oatmeal is chiefly eaten as porridge,
also an ingredient in many cold cereals,
In Britain, it is used for brewing beer.
Oatmeal stout is one variety brewed using a percentage of oats for the wort
A cold, sweet drink made of ground oats and milk is a popular refreshment throughout Latin America.
In Scotland a dish called Sowans was made by soaking the husks from oats for a week so that the fine, floury part of the meal remained as sediment to be strained off, boiled and eaten (Gauldie 1981).
Oats are also widely used there as a thickener in soups, as barley or rice might be used in other countries.
Oats are also commonly used as feed for horses
Oat straw is prized by cattle and horse producers as bedding, due to its soft, relatively dust-free, and absorbent nature.
The straw can also be used for making corn dollies. Tied in a muslin bag, oat straw was used to soften bath-water.
Oat extract can also be used to soothe skin conditions, e.g. skin lotions. It is the principal ingredient for the Aveeno line of products.
Export Hay is hay that is produced for export markets.
Muesli is a popular breakfast cereal based on uncooked rolled oats, fruit and nuts.
Rain milk is a milk substitute made from fermented grain or from flour.
Gruel, made by mixing oatmeal with cold water which is then strained and heated for the benefit of infants and people recovering from illness.
Oat is an introduced crop in India. The exact time and place of its introduction cannot be ascertained with certainty. However, there are references to Oat cultivation in Ain –I-Akbari written by Abul Fazal, the court historian of Mughal king Akbar, in 1590. It is generally believed that large scale Oat cultivation started in India during the beginning of 19th century when the British established remount depots for the Indian Army. As far as extension of its cultivation in the Himalaya is concerned, it is comparatively recent. It was first introduced in the Jammu and Kashmir State by the then King, Maharaja Hari Singh (1925-1947) in his stud farms. The seeds were imported from Europe. During this period, cultivation of Oats remained confined to the King’s farms only and local farmers were not using Oats. Its introduction in the Himalayan region started earnestly in late seventies, after the establishment of an Agrostology wing of J&K Department of Agriculture in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh Agricultural University at Palampur and G.B. Pant Agricultural University at Pantnagar. Along with its introduction, organized research activities also started on Oats in the Himalayan region. These activities were further strengthened by extensive research on production technology and varietal development of Oats at the Indian Grassland and Fodder Research Institute (IGFRI) and Indian Agricultural University established in the plains. In these areas Berseem (Egyptian clover) became very popular but it could be cultivated only under irrigated conditions. To find an alternative forage crop for rainfed areas research was initiated on Oats and it is continuing. Until now a number of productive and nutritious varieties/cultivars of Oats have been released in India by various institutions. The release of any variety/ cultivar is preceded by multilocational trials throughout the country under the aegis of All India Co-ordinated Research Project on Forage Crops. Some of its testing centres are located in Himalayan places like Palampur, Srinagar and Almora. This at times leads to the identification of a variety suitable only for Himalayan regions.
Soft drinks major Pepsico is roping in farmers in different states for growing oats as it mulls over manufacturing of its breakfast cereals brand Quaker Oats in India
he company, which currently imports Quaker Oats to India, has already initiated testing of seeds brought from the US and Australia, and evaluating the feasibility of producing oats here to meet the market demands. The company is already working closely with farmers in Punjab, Bengal, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan for developing and producing quality potatoes which account for 50 per cent of total raw material requirement for the snacks range.
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GUINEA GRASS (Panicum maximum)
Guinea grass is a popular fodder grass of the tropics. It can be profitably grown as a component of agro-forestry systems and comes 'up well under coconut and other trees. As an excellent fodder it is much valued for its high productivity, palatability and good persistence. It is a perennial bunch grass; 0.5 to 4.5 m high. The stem is stout to slender, erect or ascending; glabrous or hairy. Leaves are 10 to 100 cm long and 3.5 cm wide. Panicle loose and much branched, the lower most branches being in a distinct whorl. The small seeds are enclosed in smooth glumes. The seeds shatter. The root system is deep, dense and fibrous.
Guinea grass thrives well in warm moist climate. It can grow from sea level to 1800 m altitude. It is frost sensitive. It thrives between a temperature range of 15 to 38 °C. The grass tolerates shade and grows under trees and bushes and is best suitable as an intercrop in coconut gardens. The grass is adapted to a wide range of soils. It usually grows on well-drained light textured soil, preferably sandy loams or loams, but is better suited to medium to highly fertile loams. It cannot tolerate heavy clays or prolonged waterlogging.
As an irrigated crop planting can be done at any time of the year. Seeds and slips can be used as planting ma terial. Since seed germination is poor vegetative propagation is preferred. To obtain slips for planting, old clumps are uprooted and slips with roots are separated. For planting one hectare, 1.25 lakhs of slips are required. If seeds are used (3 kg/ha), it should be sown in nursery and the seedlings transplanted in the main field.
The grass requires thorough cultivation to prepare a weed-free seedbed for establishment. For this, two or three ploughings and one levelling are sufficient. In the prepared field, trenches of 10 cm width and 20 cm depth are made. In these trenches, FYM should be applied along with phosphorus and potassium fertilizers. Mix with soil and cover the trenches and form ridges of 15 cm height for planting slips. In acid soils, application of lime @ 500 kg/ha in alternate years is desirable.
Slips are planted on ridges at the rate of three slips per hill. The spacing of 40 x 20 cm is followed when grown as an intercrop. For a pure crop, a wider spacing of 60 x 30 cm is required.
A basal dose of 10 tonnes of FYM, 50 kg PzOs and 50 kg KzO per ha (applied in trenches) is recommended. For topdressing, use 200 kg N per ha in two split doses, the first dose immediately after-first cutting and the second dose during the northeast monsoon period. If irrigation facilities are available, topdressing can be given in more splits. The fertilizer may be applied on either side of the plants, along the row and earthed up.
At planting two irrigations are required within seven to ten days for quick establishment. The crop should be subsequently irrigated depending upon the rainfall and soil type. Usually irrigation once in 7-10 days is required. Irrigation with cowshed washing or sewage water within 3-4 days after cutting gives better growth.
The delicate seedlings or newly emerged shoots from slips or cuttings require protection from weeds in the first two months. Two intercultivations should be given during this period. Later, intercultivation may be necessary after three or four cuttings.
The crop is ready for harvest when it reaches 1.5 m height. Cutting at 15 to 20 cm above the ground level is advised. The first cut is usually ready in 9-10 weeks after planting and subsequent cuts are taken at 45 to 60 days intervals. About six to seven harvests can be made in a year. Approximately 80-100 t/ha of green fodder is obtained per year.
Guinea grass can be grown mixed with le guminous fodder crops such as cowpea, stylo and siratro. The grass is nutritious, palatable and free from oxalates. It makes good hay and silage. The crude protein and the crude fibre content of this grass vary from 8 to 14% and 28 to 36%, respectively.
GAMBA GRASS (Andropogon gayanus)
Gamba grass is also known as 'Sadabahar'. It is a tufted perennial grass and the stems are usually 1-2 m high. The inflorescence is a large spathe or panicle.
The grass tolerates drought and suits areas where dry season lasts for five months or so. In areas with less severe drought it can remain green throughout the year. It tolerates deep seasonal flooding. The grass avoids heavy soil, is resistant to grass fires and develops new leaves and shoots a few days after buming. The crop comes up well in partial shade and is a good intercrop in coconut gardens. The crop can be propagated through rooted slips or seeds lightly drilled. Cultural operations and management are similar to that of guinea grass.
In general about 50 to 80 t/ha of green matter is produced in the first year. From the second year onwards there is a slight increase in green fodder yield. The grass has excellent palatability with 5.5 % crude protein and 32.6 % crude fibre.
SETARIA GRASS (Setaria anceps)
Setaria anceps is also called as Golden Timothy. The grass comes up well in the medium rainfall areas in the tropics and subtropics.
The grass is a tufted perennial with erect stems and grows 1-2 m in height. Leaves are about 40 cm long, 8-20 cm wide and green to dark green in colour. Panicle is dense, cylindrical, about 10 to. 30 cm long and orange to purplish in colour. Spikelets are two in number, the lower one is the male or sterile and the upper one is bisexual.
Usually the grass grows under an annual rainfall of over 750 mm. It grows vigorously under high annual rainfall ranging from 1000 to 1500 mm. It can also survive long, hot and dry seasons. The grass grows well at 20 to 25 Dc. It is more cold tolerant than most of other tropical and subtropical grasses.
It can come up in a variety of soil types. This perennial grass requires thorough land preparation; two or three ploughings / diggings followed by one levelling. The land should be free from weeds.
Propagation is through rooted slips as well as through seeds. Seedlings can be raised in nursery and transplanted during rainy season under rain fed conditions. If irrigation facilities are available, planting can be done at any time between February and November.
As a pure crop it is planted at 50 x 30 cm spacing. The row-t o-row distance may be increased to 60-70 cm when the soil is poor and irrigation facility is absent. For intercropping with legumes, 100 x 30 cm spacing is followed. If seeds are used, seed rate varies Horn 3.5 to 4.0 kg/ha. In case of rooted slips, the number of slips required varies from 33500 to 67000 per ha.
Organic manure, either FYM or compost @ 10 tlha may be applied at the time of land preparation. The crop responds well to application of fertilizers especially N. The fertilizer requirement depends on the initial nutrient status of the soil.
The grass flourishes in moist, but not wet soils. Setaria plots should be well drained during rainy season. At establishment, the crop requires two successive light irrigations in 7-10 days interval. Subsequent irrigation should be given as and when necessary.
One or two weeding or intercultivation is given in the first 2 to 3 months. To control weeds and to encourage fresh sprouts, one or two intercultivation has to be carried out every year.The crop is ready for harvest by 9-10 weeks. Subsequent cuts can be taken after every 40 to 60 days depending on the crop growth. At harvest, a stubble height of about 8 to 10 cm is left for good regeneration.
Generally, about 25-40 t/ha of green fodder can be harvested per year under rainfed situation. Irrigated crop yields about 75-150 t/hal/year.
The grass can be used as green cut fodder, silage and hay. The grass gives satisfactory silage with molasses. The crude protein and crude fibre content of the grass range from 4.8 to 18.4 per cent and 24 to 34 per cent, respectively.
Seed yields are low due to prolonged emergence of panicles, prolonged flowering of the same panicle, early shedding of spikelets, bird damage etc. Denser stands give more uniform panicle emergence than widely spaced plants.
Fertilizer application is compulsory in seed production.
Cultivation of Watermelon
Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) is an important cucurbitaceous vegetable. It is know as tarbuj, tarmuj, kalinda and kalindi in different parts of India. Though it can be grown in garden land, it is a major river-bed crop of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. As a common summer season crop, it is grown from the lower Himalayan region to southern parts of India, Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka, Assam, West Bengal, Orissa, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan being major watermelon growing states. An excellent dessert fruit, it is relished by rich as well as poor. The fruit juice makes an excellent refreshing and cooling beverage after adding a pinch of salt and black pepper. The fruits contain 92% water, 0.2% protein, 0.3% minerals 7.0% carbohydrates in a 100g edible flesh.
Climate and soil
Watermelon requires hot dry climate and a long growing season preferably with warmer days and cooler nights. It cannot withstand frost or very low temperatures. For seed germination, an optimum moisture and a soil temperature between 25-30oC is needed. Similarly plant growth is optimum under 28-30 oC, while fruiting is better at 24-27 oC. Higher temperatures are beneficial during ripening. Arid regions of Rajasthan are best suited for production of quality fruits.
Watermelon may be grown on a wide variety of soils. Sandy loams are best for early crop, while loams have high-yielding potential. Alluvial river-beds are also good for watermelon. Heavier soils do not permit perfect root growth and hence only short duration varieties with smaller fruits are suitable. The soil should be well-drained and should have ample organic matter. It is generally cultivated in river-beds by making trenches and sowing in hills or pits. A pH of 6.5-7.0 is ideal.
A number of selections, varieties and hybrids are recommended for commercial cultivation. These are given below.
It is a mid-season F1 hybrid. The plants bear round fruits weighing 6-8kg each, light green skin with regular dark green stripes, sweet flesh (11-12% TSS) with crimson-red colour. The flesh gets granular when over-ripe. It performs well under south as well as north Indian conditions.
Fruits are somewhat round (oval) and weigh about 6kg each. Skin colour is light green with dull green stripes. The flesh is deep red, very sweet (11-12% TSS) and seed arrangement is such that its removal is easier. It is resistant to powdery mildew, downy mildew, tolerant to anthracnose and blossom-end rot. It stands transport and storage well.
It is a Japanese introduction with fruits weighting 6-8kg each. Fruits have striped light green skin and deep pink, crisp, sweet (11-13% TSS) flesh with small brown seeds. The fruits ripen 90-95 days after sowing.
It is a late-maturing variety having green, striped skin with individual fruit weighing 4-5kg. The fruits have yellow flesh, which is moderate in sweetness with large seeds
Fruits are round with light green skin, thick rind and good keeping quality. Flesh is dark red-sweet with around 11% TSS. On an average, fruits weigh 6-8kg each and mature 125 days after sowing.
An American introduction, its fruits weigh 8-10kg. It has dark green, red flesh with moderate sweetness (8-9% TSS).
New Hampshire Midget
This is also an introduction having small fruits, weighing 1.5-2.0kg each. The fruits have light green skin with black stripes, red flesh, suited for home gardens.
It is a seedless hybrid having aborted embryos and false, rudimentary, least perceptible seeds. The plants are slow-growing with dark green foliage, short internodes and leathery leaves. The fruits are seedless, somewhat irregularly triangular, dark green with thick rind, crisp, deep pink flesh and excellent quality. It takes about 105 days to ripen. Costly and tedious seed production and difficulty in seed germination are the reasons behind its non-commercialization.
Its fruits are small, round with red flesh and red seeds. It is early in maturity and TSS is slightly lower than Improved Shipper.
It is an introduction from the USA. It is a medium-vining variety with fruits weighing 4-6kg each. Fruits are round in shape, having bluish bloom on dark green skin and black-green stripes, deep purple, crisp, very sweet (11-13% TSS) flesh and small brown seeds. The fruits ripen 85-90 days after sowing.
Besides, there are a number of extensively cultivated hybrids. They are Madhu Milan, Mohini, MHW 4, MHW 5, MHW 6, MHW 11, MHW 12, MHW 15, NS 246, NS 295, Suruchi, Samtrupti, Amruth and Century 2. Appealing appearance, good quality flesh and transportability and resistance/tolerance to wilt are important characters available in most of these hybrids.
Watermelon is propagated by seed. The seed requirement for planting depends on spacing between plants and rows which again depend on vining habit of the variety. In general, a seed rate of 3.0-3.5kg/ha for small-seeded types and 5.0kg/ha for large-seeded types is sufficient. High-yielding varieties particularly hybrids need about one-third seed rate. They can be transplanted with ball of earth after raising seedlings in alkathene bags. Seeds should be soaked overnight and kept at moist warm place for 48hr for initiation of germination. Pre-germinated seeds could be sown in hills on the raised sides of furrows in upland and in trenches or in pits in the river-beds. Two plants/ hill in trenches or furrows and 4 plants/ pit are retained for growing. A long vining type may require row and plant spacing up to 3.5 and 1.2m in river-beds while medium vining type like Sugar Baby may require 2.0m נ1.0m spacing in upland. Plant-to-plant spacing could further be reduced to 0.6m to accommodate around 16,600 plants/ha if single plant/ hill is retained in place of 2. In pit sowing, pits of 60cm נ60cm size are dug up and filled with soil mixed with sufficient quantity (equal) of organic manure and fertilizer mixture (N + P + K) before sowing.
In north Indian plains, sowing is done during late-February to mid-March while in north-eastern and western India, November-January. In west Bengal, sowing is recommended by mid-November, while in central and south India with mild winters sowing is done during December-January. In Rajasthan, a rainy season crop is also taken and it is sown during August-September. In north Indian hills, Asahi Yamato is sown during April-May. For transplanting, 1-2 seeds/ bag are sown in perforated alkathene bags of 150-200 micron thickness and 8cm נ10cm size. Seedlings at 2-3 leaves stage with ball of earth should be transplanted.
Pruning and training
The excessive vine growth can be pruned manually to restrict vegetative growth and promote higher female: male flower ratio. If apical shoot is pinched and 2-4 side shoots are allowed to grow it gives significantly higher fruit yield than un-pruned plants. This is commonly practiced in some parts of the country. Fruit thinning is useful and retaining of 2 fruits/ vine improves fruit size as well as fruit yield.
In archway system of training plants are spaced at 45cm to accommodate 9,500 plants/ha, whereas in inclined cordon system, plants are spaced at 54cm in rows alternately at 2.14m and 76cm bed centre. In vertical cordon plants are spaced 54cm apart in rows at 1.52m to accommodate 12,000 plants/ha.
Manuring and fertilization
Watermelon responds well to manuring and fertilizer application. The dose of fertilizers depends upon the soil type, climate and system of planting. Well-rotten farmyard manure @ 15-22.5tonnes/ha should be mixed thoroughly with the soil at the time of preparation of land. This is supplemented by full quantity of P and K before sowing and half dose of N at the time of vining and the other 10-15 days later. In general, high N under high temperature conditions promotes maleness in flowering and lower number of female or perfect flowers/ vine, resulting in low fruits-set and yield. It is better to complete all the fertilizer applications before the fruit-set. In watermelon, fruits are harvested at full maturity stage and as such larger number of fruits/ vine are desirable. This can be partially remedied by foliar spraying of urea preferably mixed with insecticides.
Watermelons do not require much attention on interculture. In early stage the beds and ridges should be kept weed-free. At the time of topdressing of nitrogenous fertilizer, weeding and earthing-up are done. When the vines start spreading, weeding in between rows or ridges becomes neither necessary not feasible since vine growth can smother the weeds. Vigorously growing weeds should be manually pulled out, without disturbing vines at later stages. Watermelon is also sensitive to weeds in initial stages of plant growth. Yield losses up to 30% have been observed due to weeds. To reduce these losses, intercultural operations need to be started 15-20 days after sowing. Depending upon soil and environmental factors, 2-3 weedings would be required. Use of herbicides for weed control in watermelon is a common practice in developed countries. In India, Simazine, Alachlor, Dichlormate, Propanil and Butachlor as post sowing and pre-emergence treatments are effective. However, Butachlor @ 2.0 kg/ha and Ttrifluralin @ 1-2kg/ha are also effective.
Forcing watermelons out of season
Extension of watermelons in non-traditional areas-riverbeds, diaras and under protected cover (polyhouses, glasshouses and polytunnels) can produce the crop for off-season supply and higher profits. The newer concept is of raising seedlings early in suitable size alkathene bags and then transplanting them in field as soon as it is vacated or the optimum temperature is achieved. Under north Indian conditions bag sowing is done by mid-January and transplanting by third week of February. Bags should contain organic manure and sandy-loam soil in a 1:1 ratio or organic manure, sand and sand-loam soil in 2:1:1 ratio with insecticide, fungicide dressings and be protected after sowing to give sufficient heat (temperature) for germination and initial growth.
Watermelon responds very much to irrigation but it cannot withstand waterlogged conditions. It is generally cultivated as a spring-summer crop in which frequency of irrigation is very important. Soil moisture is important for good germination. Frequent irrigations also promote excessive vegetative growth, especially in heavy soils which needs to be avoided. At the same time soil moisture stress during pre-flowering, flowering and fruit development stages drastically reduces yield. Irrigation should be stopped during ripening as it adversely affects fruit quality and promotes fruit cracking. The application of water should be restricted to the base of the plant and root zone. Irrigation water should not wet the vines or vegetative parts, especially when flowering, fruit-set and fruit development is in progress. Frequent wetting of leaves, stems and developing fruits promote disease incidence. River-bed crop needs watering only in initial stages. Later when roots go as deep as 1.5m or up to the water table, no irrigation is given. The crop should be irrigated at 3-5 days intervals, during summers. In West Bengal, interval could be as long as 10-15 days.
Harvesting and postharvest management
Watermelons should be harvested at proper stage of maturity. Irrigation in preceding one week of harvest may give high turgidity to fruits and the skin of the fruit may crack while transporting them and hence this should not be practiced. Jerk to fruits while loading and transport should also be avoided. Size of fruits and colour of the skin are not good indicators to know the proper stage. The crop is ready for harvesting 90-120 days after sowing depending upon cultivar and season. Change in the colour of the portion of the fruit which rests on the ground from white to creamy in case of light skin colour, or to yellow in case of dark skin colour, is a useful guide of maturity. A metallic sound when the fruit is tapped with the back of hand or with fingers denote immaturity, whereas a heavy dull sound indicate ripeness. The drying of tendril at the base of the fruit is also a sign of maturity. However, the knack of recognizing a ripe melon comes with experience. The fruits become fit for harvesting 30-40 days after anthesis. These should be separated from the vine with the help of a knife. The average fruit yield varies from 200 to 250q/ha and may go beyond 300q/ha in some high-yielding varieties/hybrids.
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