Oats Date-of-Planting Study 1997-1998

In the 1990’s, oat yields averaged between 60 and 75 bu/a in the upper Midwest and were grown mainly for supplemental feed and straw for livestock. However, on farm research has shown that when oats are well managed, 100 bu/acre yields of high quality oats are common (see “A Farmer’s Guide to Quality Oat Production and Resource Guide”, Doetch and Kane, 1998).

In addition to variety selection and harvesting technique, a key to the production of high quality, high yielding oats is early planting. Typically, planting date for oats in Wisconsin is April 10-25. Studies from Iowa State University indicate a yield loss of 10% per week if planted after April 16 and 15% per week during the first two weeks of May (Hansen, 1992). The risk for lodging also increases with later planting dates as well as the pressure from lambsquarter (Chenopodium album), giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida), foxtail (Setaria spp.), and others (Wright, 1993). Early planting of oats can also reduce the impact of such diseases as crown rust and yellow dwarf virus (Munkvold, 1998).

Unfortunately, the number of days in the Midwest available for drilling oats in the early spring is limited. Until the frost layer leaves the ground, surface soils are either frozen solid (early March) or too wet to plant (late March, April). Exceptions exist however, in the early morning in late March and early April, when the surface soil has the strength to hold farm equipment because it is just thawing, after temporarily re-freezing during the night.

The goal of this project was to study alternative methods of planting oats in the late winter/early spring to insure the potential for high yields. To insert oats into the corn soybean rotation, three factors were analyzed in this project: 1) fall land preparation following soybean; 2) date of planting in March; and, 3) oat planting method.

Authors: J.K. Stute, J.L. Posner, J.L. Hedtcke