It is believed oats first were grown by ancient Slavic peoples during the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. Oats were grown for grain in Europe and for animal feed in Asia Minor during the early Christian era. In central Europe, oats have been used for centuries. Oatmeal came to be an important food in areas with cool, moist climates suitable for growing oats, particularly Scotland. Today, oats are grown in practically every country in the world. Total world production has been about 2.5 billion bushels in recent years.
The world's leading oats producer is the Commonwealth of Independent States, which far outpaces the United States, Canada, the European Community, Australia and Poland. The United States now grows about 300 million bushels of oats annually, down dramatically from the 1.5 billion bushels grown as recently as 1955. That amounts to only about 13 to 16 percent of world production. U.S. oats are grown primarily in the Northcentral states because the oat plant requires plenty of moisture and relatively cool weather.
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