Oat
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Oat, common name for the seeds or grains of a genus of plants, and for the plants themselves. The genus contains about 15 species that grow widely in the cooler temperate regions of the world. Several are cultivated for their grain, which is used as feed for cattle and horses, and for human consumption as a cereal. The green plants are often used for hay, silage, and pasture, and the dried straw is excellent bedding for livestock. Oats are important rotation crops on livestock and arable farms.

Oats are normally sown in early spring and harvested in mid- to late summer. In the southern regions of Europe, oats may be sown in the autumn. The most widely planted species is the common oat. The wild oat is a common weed, often difficult to eradicate, that grows in Europe, North America, and Asia. Cultivated oats were probably derived from the wild oat by farmers in the Middle East and Europe about 4,500 years ago.

Oat grains, as harvested, consist of highly digestible groats (seeds) held within indigestible husks. Compared with other grains, whole (unhusked) oats produce feeds that are high in protein (12 per cent), fat (5 per cent), and fibre (12 to 14 per cent), and high in carbohydrates (about 64 per cent). Oat varieties are being developed with improved yields, higher protein and energy content, and stronger resistance to rust, virus diseases, and attacks by insects.

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Oat Starch
(Amylum Avenae)
Single granules and agglomerates.
Granules up to 65 microns

As cereals and porridge, which are derived from roasted grain, oats are high in protein and are particularly good sources of thiamine, or vitamin B1. In recent years the use of oats has been extended to ready-to-eat breakfast cereals and a wide variety of processed foods. Oat flour contains antioxidants that prevent fat-containing foods going rancid; it is an ingredient of such products as peanut butter, margarine, chocolate, and doughnut flours, and is a preservative inner coating for the paper bags used to package salted nuts, coffee, and potato crisps. Oat flour also serves as a fat stabilizer in ice cream and other dairy products. The most important industrial product from oats is furfural, a chemical derived from oat husks and used as a solvent in various refining industries. Although oat starch is being produced it is not an important raw material source for starch. Raisio, Finland closed their oat starch operation in beginning of the nineties.

In the mid-1990s, Russia, Canada, the United States, and Germany were, respectively, the worlds largest producers of oats. World production was about 34 million tonnes annually.

Scientific classification: Oats belong to the genus Avena of the family Poaceae (or Gramineae). The common oat is classified as Avena sativa and the wild oat as Avena fatua.