Oats are a species of plant grown for their edible seeds which share the same name. Oats are an important cereal grain and are used for food products, such as oatmeal and rolled oats, and for livestock feed. Oats are often recommended for their many health benefits, such as their ability to help lower levels of bad cholesterol and because they are a good source of fiber, iron and magnesium. Oats are grown in temperate climates and are extremely cold tolerant. It is also more rain tolerant than other grains and requires only mild summer heat. The plant resembles other grain plants and is also similar in appearance to many species of grass. The edible seeds are harvested and then processed into flakes, bran or flour. Let’s find out where oats came from and where they are grown today.
Where did oats originate from?
The wild ancestor of the domesticated oat is called Avena sterilis. Recent genetic evidence shows that this wild form of the modern oat originated in the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East. Interestingly, it is thought that oats were not domesticated in the Middle East but in Europe during the European Bronze Age. Oats were domesticated relatively late compared to many other grains and it is thought that it was a secondary crop that was originally a weed growing with other grains.
Where are oats grown today?
Today oats are grown on every continent on Earth (apart from Antarctica). Russia is the largest producer of oats at more than 5 million metric tons. Other large producers of this grain include: Canada, the United States, Poland, Finland, Australia and Germany. The majority of the world supply of oats are still grown in the temperate European areas where it was first domesticated.