theadanews.com - Ada, Oklahoma

Agriculture

January 29, 2007

Planting Spring Oats in Oklahoma

The long-term effects of the recent drought on pasture productivity are unknown until appropriate growing conditions return this spring and summer. However, there are two obvious short-term effects: 1) little to no available forage and 2) limited hay supplies. There are currently few opportunities remaining to produce late-winter to early-spring forage if you did not plant wheat pasture, annual ryegrass, or fall-fertilize tall fescue.

One option to consider that may offer some hope for relief is spring-planted oat.

Oat can be planted in late winter through early spring for pasture or hay. Even though there is substantial risk involved with this strategy due to weather, insects, and diseases, it may offer some help for increasing a short forage supply. The primary considerations for success are that is must be drill-planted on a prepared seedbed when the opportunity arises and managed accordingly.

Seed sources

There is not a wide selection of oat varieties available, but those varieties for use in the southern USA are preferable to northern USA varieties.

Feed oat has been successfully used and can provide excellent nutrition for many classes of livestock. However, many of these have not been tested as seed oat and may contain weed seeds (noxious weed seeds in particular), have unknown seed germination, and foreign material.

Feed oat sources are usually relatively cheap, but they are rarely a wise purchase. Oklahoma state seed law requires that seed being sold for planting purposes have a tag with a recent test result for germination, weed seed, and foreign material.

Sowing dates

The window for spring-planted oat is between Feb. 15 and March 10 with an optimum planting time during the last full week of February.

If dry weather and above freezing temperatures occur in late January and early February, the planting date can be shifted closer to Feb. 15. However, if conditions are wet, damp, and cold during late January and early February, then planting may be delayed until early March. Oat should be drill-planted on a conventionally prepared seedbed at a seeding rate of 80 to 100 pounds of seed per acre.

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