Oat (Avena sativa L.) is an important cereal crop grown worldwide with nutritional benefits for both livestock and humans. It is also used as a cover crop, due to its ability to grow quickly, suppress weeds and take up excess nutrients. Illinois currently grows approximately 35,000 acres of oats. The UIUC breeding program works with both hulled and hull-less varieties. Publicly released varieties include Reins, Corral, Saber, Tack, Spurs, and Blaze. The primary breeding objectives are:
- Yield and test weight
- Nutritional factors (beta-glucans, avananthramides, etc)
- Disease resistance (rusts, viruses)
- Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus (BYDV) is the most important viral disease of oats. This disease causes stunting and discoloration of leaves, significantly reducing yields.