At its recent Professional Grower’s meeting, Connor Sheeran was awarded White’s Grower of the Year. Connor, whose farm is on the outskirts of Rathfriland has been growing oats for White’s for five years and, is among a group of local farmers working with White’s on testing new varieties that will continue to raise the benchmark in producing high quality oats.
In launching the award, White’s acknowledges the dedication and passion of its growers and, the commitment that goes into oat research at farm level in pursuit of the very best varieties of oats for its award winning oat cereals.
The criteria for the judging is based around five key agronomy areas, among those; mill quality which measures hullability, kernel content and bushel weight; but it was Connor’s commitment and enthusiasm to technical development around oat research and trials that particularly stood out for White’s when selecting Connor as its Grower of the Year.
‘’Increasingly porridge is now a product of choice for consumers and recognition of the many associated health benefits of oats is sustaining the increase in demand’’, says James Mathers, General Manager of White’s Oats. He adds, ‘’what we are seeing in the market place is that with more retail outlets such as coffee shops offering porridge as an all-day option it has reawakened interest and, attracted a new generation of consumer. Product innovation in other areas such as oat milk, savoury oats and oat cosmetics is also driving demand for high quality oats to be grown and the climate in Ireland is well suited for their production’’.
Supporting its agronomic research and advice to its growers, White’s, in collaboration with oat breeders, recently carried out agronomy trials at the Agri Food and Biosciences Institute at its Crossnacreevy site where growers had an opportunity to visit during the summer. “The results of these trials, and those in coming years will underpin the agronomic advice we give to all our growers where our aim among others is to further enhance the quality of Irish grown oats’’, said James.
Photo Caption: L-R, Sean Kane, White’s Agri Supply Chain Coordinator pictured with Connor Sheeran, White’s 2018 Grower of the Year.