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Harvesting Oat

 
Chong Kee Tan
Posts: 2
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We move in to a new farm that that we are slowly converting to a food forest. It has about 5 acres of oat. We were told the oats were planted originally for oat hay, but since the previous owner died they were not harvested. The seed head are now forming and we are told it is not good as oat hay for animal feed anymore. I am thinking perhaps we could let it ripen and harvest them as oat for human consumption. Problem is, we have no farm machinery and no idea how to do this. And how will two people homesteading eat 5 acres worth of oat? What should we do?
 
Mike Jay
Posts: 244
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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food preservation hunting woodworking
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If there are other larger farms nearby maybe you could talk a farmer into harvesting your field in exchange for giving you 100 lbs of dehulled oats.  From what little research I've done I think 5 acres of oats would likely yield 60-100 bushels per acre and a bushel weighs around 40 lbs.  So the farmer could harvest 12,000-20,000 lbs of oats.  I'm not sure if the planting density is different for straw production vs oat production.  And those numbers are for US production (not sure where in the world you are).

I believe a combine does not de-hull the oats.  Oats still in the hull are a pain to turn into groats (edible oat seeds).  So if the combine turns out de-hulled oats, you'd be all set.  If it doesn't, maybe you can give the farmer the oats in exchange for money or other perks later (help with earth works, manure, etc).

If there aren't any farmers around, you could just cut the oats before they become viable seeds and leave the oat straw on the field as mulch for your forest.  The oat beds I used as a cover crop last year made really good mulch this year.

I agree that the two of you probably can't eat all of those oats
 
Chong Kee Tan
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Thanks Mike! This is very helpful.

We are in rural Salem, Oregon. Our neighbor originally said they would help with the harvest and keep half of it, then changed his mind because they are shorthanded. The other neighbors are tree nursery and flower grower so they don't have the equipment. Perhaps I'll try posting on craigslist...
 
Bernard Welm
Posts: 53
Location: Minnesota
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I would suggest talking to other neighbors. Or even talk to the neighbor that said he could help initially and see if they know someone else that could help with it.

Word of mouth to find people in the local area will likely get you further then posting to craigslist.
 
Mike Jay
Posts: 244
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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food preservation hunting woodworking
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Depending on how good the access and roads are, farmers may be willing to travel farther than you'd expect.  And your neighbor may become less short-handed if he can keep 90% of it instead of half.
 
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