Although they are no longer major grain crops in the state, oats and barley varieties continue to receive attention in performance trial plots that are overseen by the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Extension Service.
During 2013, agronomists Shawn Conley and John Mochon oversaw variety trial plots at Arlington, Lancaster, Madison, Marshfield, Spooner, and Sturgeon Bay. Only winter wheat plots were grown on the Kolbe Seed Farms at Chilton in 2013.
Oats varieties grown at each of the three southern and northern sites in 2013 were the early season Badger, Kame, and Dane, the mid-season Esker, Excel, Horsepower, Ogle, and Shelby 427, and the late season Drumlin, Newburg, Rockford, and Vista.
With only one exception, all of the varieties yielded over 100 bushels per acre in four of the six trial plots. Among the highlights were 173 bushels per acre for Horsepower and 156 for Badger at Arlington and 155 bushels for Horsepower and 153 for Excel at the Madison west side plot.
At Sturgeon Bay, all of the varieties except Badger topped 100 bushels per acre for a plot average of 117 bushels. At Spooner, four of the oats varieties nudged above 100 bushels per acre while at Marshfield only the late season Newburg and Rockford reached 70 bushels per acre in a plot where the average was only 51 bushels per acre.
The forage oats varieties Rockford, Vista, and ForagePlus were grown at Arlington and Madison for harvest in late June or early July. ForagePlus continued to show its superiority in that category with an average yield of 2.81 dry matter tons per acre.
Wisconsin farmers are growing only a small percentage of the number of acres of oats that they did several decades ago but the state's production has nevertheless ranked in the top rung among the states in recent years. Wisconsin was the top oats-producing state in 2011 and placed second to Minnesota in 2012. Comparatives between the states are not yet available for 2013.
During 2013, Wisconsin's farmers planted 255,000 acres of oats but harvested only 105,000 of them for grain. On an average yield of 65 bushels per acre, the state's crop totaled 6.83 million bushels, which was the lowest total since production records were first compiled in 1866. In 2012, 7.8 million bushels were harvested from 130,000 acres.
Kewaunee, Pinnacle, Quest, and Rasmusson barley varieties were grown in trial plots at all six of the sites in 2013. All of them posted yields of 90-98 bushels per acre at Arlington and all except Quest were at 86-88 bushels at the Madison plot. At the three northern sites, the plot averages ran from 51-56 bushels per acre.
At Madison and Arlington, Kewaunee and Westford barley varieties were grown for forage. Kewaunee posted the top yields of 1.71 and 1.88 dry matter tons per acre at the two sites.
For barley production, Wisconsin accounts for less than one percent of the nation's total. During each of the past two years, 15,000-16,000 acres of the 33,000 planted acres were harvested for grain for totals of 784,000 bushels in 2013 and 660,000 bushels in 2012.
In Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Crop Improvement Association is authorized to issues licenses for the production of certified seed for Badger, Dane, ForagePlus, Gem, Drumlin, Esker, Kame, Vista, and Moraine oats, Kewaunee barley, and Spooner rye.