The Oat Crop

Part of the series World Crop Series pp 1-33

Oats and oat production in history and pre-history

  • Richard J. Moore-Colyer

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In most communities throughout the Western world cereal crops have always played a pivotal role in human nutrition and thus, both directly and indirectly, have been closely associated with the sociocultural development of those communities. Whether we are considering the activities of collecting/gathering cultures in the Near East in the sixth and seventh millennia BC, or the advanced agricultural economy of mid-Victorian Britain, annual cereal yield at the local level was of the profoundest importance both to human survival and social organization. In the absence of any well-coordinated inter- and intraregional trade arrangements, climatic aberrations or disease epidemics limiting harvest productivity could impose serious social stresses, to which the sporadic and often spontaneous outbreaks of corn riots in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries bear witness.