The Hall

Vernon Burrows 1930–

You might think that all oats are the same—not so! Different oats are good for different uses. I devoted my life to breeding the best oats for challenging circumstances.

I studied agricultural science at the University of Manitoba, and pursued a Ph.D. at the California Institute of Technology. I moved to Ottawa in 1958, and took a research position at the Department of Agriculture.

Over the years, I bred and registered 28 new varieties of oats. I am probably most noted for the “Donald oat” and the “naked oat.” The Donald oat is insensitive to day length—it flowers even when days are short. This makes it useful for conducting crop research, speeding the process of developing new varieties. The “naked oat,” named Cavena Nuda, doesn’t have a hull or fine hairs. It requires less processing, and is cheaper to store and transport than ordinary oats. This gluten-free grain has been promoted as a rice replacement as it is very high in energy, protein, and antioxidants.

Although I officially retired in 1996, I found it hard to stop working. I conducted research in China, exploring suitable oat lines for areas with little water and salty soil. I also served as a member of the Canadian Celiac Association’s professional advisory board, helping to develop a production system that can make oats safe for most people with Celiac disease. I have also remained involved as Research Scientist Emeritus with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Oats are an important crop that can help us to solve many problems related to agriculture, health, and nutrition. I have been committed to finding these solutions.

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