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The cultivation of oats is mostly confined to the Northern Hemisphere and is shared equally by the Old and the new worlds.

In its climatic requirements the crop is broadly similar to wheat but differs in its greater requirements of water. Oats are also tolerant of a broader range of soils than either wheat or barely. These qualities lead to its close geographical association with northern wheat and barely regions. The most important producing areas lie north of the major wheat areas in Eurasia and east of the wheat belts of North America.

The crop is of greatest importance in such cold, damp countries as Ireland, U.K., Sweden and Norway. It is grown as an important crop throughout Canada, where the temperature is too low for corn. The Hokkaido island of Japan, and North Korea are cultivated with oats because of too low temperature conditions.

Though oats are getting increasingly important as human food, the main use is still largely as horse feed, mostly as gain but increasingly as hay.

Since the oats are better adapted to corn-farming crop rotation than any other small grain, they are very important in the corn belt of the United States, which accounts for more than 17% of the world output. The Russia is the top oat producing countries by virtue of her contribution to 8.9 million metric tonnes in 1987-88.

Production. World production of oats in 1987-88 amounted to 52 million metric tons. U.S.A. Russia Canada, France and Poland are the leading producers. U.S.A is the largest producer of oats in the world. They produced 15 million metric tons in 1987-88. In U.S.A. oat is the third most important grain covering 11.5 million hectares of land. Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin grow most of the U.S.A. production.

World trade. The large bulk per unit of value is one of the reasons for the small export.

Normally only 2 to 3 per cent of world's production of oat enters the international trade. The main exporters are U.S.A., Russia, Canada, Australia and Poland. The importing countries are Germany, U.K., Switzerland, Italy and India.

Next: Oil crops

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