Monday, December 28, 2009

Oats

A cereal grain used as a food primarily for livestock, oats are members of the genus Avena of the grass family, Gramineae. Their cultivation occurred relatively recently compared with that of other cereals, such as wheat. Oats were first grown in northern Europe in conjunction with the increasing use of horses as draft animals, perhaps in the 2 d millennium BC. The plant is best suited to a moist, cool climate, and it has rarely been successfully cultivated in the southern regions of Europe. The variety known as red oats is heat tolerant and is grown in warm, moist climates. Oats, like rye, will produce yields in poor soils and are valuable as a rotation crop.
The slender oat stalk grows up to 1.2 m (4 ft) high ending in branched spikelets that contain the flowers from which the husk covered seed develop. Oat seed contain 8% to 14 % protein, 63% to 65% carbohydrate, 2% to 3% fat, and 2% to 2,5% minerals. The plant is vulnerable to rust and smut diseases, but resistant varieties have been developed.

Although they do not contain the gluten protein that makes wheat the major bread cereal, oats are nevertheless, a nourishing food. Oat plants also makes excellence straw, and the hulls are a source of furfural, an industrial chemical used in making resin and solvent.

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