Spring oats can be an excellent spring pasture and hay and may be a good option this year to help extend forage resources. Grain production is only practical if the forage is not used for grazing.
Before planting oats, check the herbicide history of the desired field. Oats are especially sensitive to triazine herbicides.
Also, if producers are planting oats for pasture and are considering applying a herbicide for weed control, carefully check the pesticide label for grazing restrictions. Oats are usually planted in our area from late February to mid-March. Planting later than these dates usually limits grain production, but adequate pasture and hay can still be achieved after the optimum planting date.
Planting as early as possible is the best strategy though.
A seeding rate of two bushels per acre is recommended.
When grown for hay or silage, fertility recommendations are similar to those for grain production:
75-125 pounds of nitrogen per acre.
When planted for grazing, an additional 30 pounds of nitrogen per acre is recommended.
As always, a soil test is recommended.
Oats may be successfully planted no-till, however, growth and vigor are typically greater when pre-plant tillage is used. To facilitate planting and maximize forage production, winter annual weeds should be controlled either mechanically or with a burndown herbicide prior to planting.
Weed control is best achieved through a good stand with rapid growth.
Before using any herbicides always read the label.
Jonie James is a McPherson County Extension agent for agriculture