Seeding Oats

The time to plant oats is nearing…or now. It is suggested that oats be planted by April 15 in northern Iowa.  One of the most important considerations when growing oats is planting time.  Early planting is important for optimal yields and higher test weights.  According to Iowa State University, oats planted after mid-April have a yield reduction of about 10% per week and after May 1 the yield reduction is 15% per week.

What is your primary reason for planting oats? If you are hoping to market your oats to a food mill, test weight is likely the most difficult specification to meet.    To increase test weight, it is important to prevent Fusarium Head Blight through the use of fungicides or resistant oat varieties.  The best control for crown rust is through genetic resistance.  If you are trying to market to Grain Millers, some of their preferred varieties include Deon, Hayden, Shelby 427, Newburg, and Rockford.  If you are looking to market your grain to someone else, it is advised that you contact them to see what varieties they prefer.

If your reason for planting oats is for animal feed, then yield may be more important than test weight. Your goals may impact which variety you choose to plant.  Practical Farmers of Iowa and ISU have conducted oat variety trials to assess yield, test weight, and disease susceptibility. The results of those trials can be found below.   Results of trials in Minnesota can also be found below.
PFI/ISU oat variety trial results
Minnesota oat variety trial results

Oats for grain are usually planted at a rate of 2.5-3.5 bushels per acre. Grain Millers suggests seeding at a rate to produce a final stand of 18-25 plants per square foot. The following calculation can be used to determine seeding rate.         Seeding Rate (lbs/ac) = (Desired stand in plants/acre)/(1-Expected Stand Loss)                                                                                   (Seeds/Pound) x Percentage Germination

The Alberta Seeding Rate Calculator is a tool that is available online to determine planting rate.  David Weisberger, a researcher from ISU, suggests planting 22-24 plants/square foot when planting early and 26-28 plants/square foot when planting later.  If you do not currently plant small grains but are considering it for future years, the Allamakee SWCD will be hosting an informational workshop this summer to provide information about planting, harvesting, storing, and marketing small grains.