Last summer, I had a chance to visit farms in Fort Benton and Bozeman, Montana that were growing Bay State Milling’s SowNaked Oats. I worked with naked oats in the Rothwell GrainEssentials Center before the trip, but the opportunity to walk the fields and talk to farmers gave me an important perspective that will inform our product development work going forward.
In Montana, I witnessed the purity protocol—the steps used to ensure SowNaked Oats test below 5 ppm for gluten—in action. I got to rogue the field by hand with farmers and see the labor intensity that it requires to be able to offer our customers the lowest gluten ppm specification available in the industry.
I walked test plots of new oat varieties with our breeding partners and was able to discuss opportunities to breed important traits of distinction into these oats for future development of an even more nutritious oat. I am able to appreciate the tremendous opportunities in oat breeding, but also the effort that goes into traditional breeding efforts for these unique traits that R&D may want.
It was interesting to learn the depth of knowledge these farmers had about their crops, and how they can predict almost to the day when the ideal harvest day will be to prevent grain shattering but have the grain to maximum kernel size and optimal moisture content.
After meeting the Montana farmers, hearing their enthusiasm and struggles, and visiting their farms, I felt very encouraged in the grow-out and development of BSM’s unique naked oat, but also an obligation for product success. They have taken on this risk of growing a new crop with and for Bay State Milling, and it is now my turn as someone in R&D to explore and develop against the uniqueness of this oat.