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FutureStarrOats Winter Crop
Forage oats is a winter forage crop and is very popular due to its ability to produce good-quality feed when most pastures are dormant. Many farmers rely on oats to fatten livestock during the period from autumn to early spring. It is a fast establishing autumn-winter growing fodder crop with high feeding value and a high leaf to stem ratio. It is most popular for silage, hay or grain production, but can be used for grazing as well. The ideal sowing time is March to May at seeding rates of 80 – 100kg/ha.
Where the plant winterkills, some farmers use oats as a nitrogen catch crop after summer legume plowdowns, to hold some N over winter without needing to kill the cover in spring. Some of the N in the winterkilled oats may still be lost by spring, either through denitrification into the atmosphere or by leaching from the soil profile. Consider mixing oats with an overwintering legume if your objective is to maximize N contribution to the next crop.Fall legume nurse crop. Oats have few equals as a legume nurse crop or companion crop. They can increase the fertilizer replacement value of legumes. Adding about 35 to 75 lb. oats/a to the seeding mix helps slow-establishing legumes such as hairy vetch, clovers or winter peas, while increasing biomass. It also helps reduce fall weeds. The oats will winterkill in many areas while improving the legume’s winter survival.
Spring green manure or companion crop. Spring -seeded with a legume, oats can provide hay or grain and excellent straw in the Northern U.S., while the legume remains as a summer—or even later—cover. There’s also a haylage option with a fast-growing legume if you harvest when oats are in the dough stage. The oats will increase the dry matter yield and boost the total protein, but, because of its relatively high nitrogen content, could pose a nitrate-poisoning threat to livestock, especially if you delay harvesting until oats are nearing the flowering stage. Oats can be drilled, broadcasted or aerial applied. Drilling the oats will provide the best results. If you are going to drill them drill them to a depth of one half to one inch. Seeding rate should be 30-100 pounds per acre, 0.9-3.1 bushels per acre. Seeding rate for broadcasting is 33-110 pounds per bushel, one to three bushels per acre. Aerial rates should be 35-120 pounds per acre, one to four bushels per acre. Rates will vary depending on what the objective of using the oats are and if the oats will be used in combination with other cover crops. (Source: www.canr.msu.edu)