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Place in the Rotation
All winter oats can be drilled in lower lying areas of England and Wales and more sheltered parts of Scotland.
Winter oats offer a Take All break and consequently are most likely to replace winter barley or a third cereal after wheat. To avoid problems with soil borne Oat Mosaic Virus and Stem Eelworm, winter oats should not be grown more frequently than one year in four.
Cultivations for winter oats follow that practised for other cereals. Consolidation is important to avoid frost lift particularly on light or organic soils. The highest yields can be achieved on deep, moisture retentive soils, which are not prone to drought or hot spots.
Seed Rate and Time of Drilling
Depending on farm conditions the seed rate should be between 300-350 seeds/m2, to achieve a population of 250 plants/m2 in the spring.
Winter oats should be sown in mid-September on exposed or more northern sites and can be drilled later on more sheltered sites in the South. Later sown crops can be less uniform, later to ripen and more prone to lodging and attack by BYDV or frit fly.
Damage caused by slugs, aphids, frit fly, wireworms and leather jackets can be reduced with a combination of cultural and chemical methods.
Most broadleaved weeds can be controlled very effectively in winter oats. Cleavers are very competitive in terms of yield and can create lodging problems. Avoid growing winter oats on heavy wild oat and blackgrass contaminated land. Some blackgrass control is possible with Lexus Class or cultural methods. Please consult your agrochemical specialist for specific and individual advice.
Diseases of Oats
Of the fungal diseases of oats recorded in the UK, powdery mildew and crown rust are the most common and potentially most damaging to crop yield. Eyespot and sharp eyespot do occur on winter oats but neither disease is thought to have a significant effect on yield. Significant losses have resulted from crops affected by Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus (BYDV) and Oat Mosaic Virus (OMV).
Some shorter, stiff varieties have shown no positive response to the use of growth regulators and in fact limited data from AHDB has shown a negative impact on yield with some varieties. Most naked oats and the taller, conventional varieties show some positive benefits and a full programme should be used.(check with your processor before applying).
Fertilisers and Crop Nutrition
Oats can be prone to manganese deficiency and this should be borne in mind for field selection. Research on nitrogen rates for oats is ongoing. The new RB209 recommendations have raised nitrogen applications by 40kg in all situations, therefore 150-190kg nitrogen should be applied
in an even split towards the end of March and again in late April. Following drier winters, less nitrogen may be needed in the first application. For more information visit https://cereals.ahdb.org.uk.
Winter oats should be fit to harvest slightly before wheat on most farms and can be used as a way of staggering harvest. Pre harvest glyphosate can be used on none seed crops where weeds have been a problem. Badly lodged crops may need to be harvested in one direction and crop lifters may also an advantage. For naked oat crops a low drum speed should be used. Senova recommend a setting of 850 for these crops and suggest that combine samples are regularly checked.
Drying and Storage
As with all grain the aim should be to reduce the moisture content as quickly as possible. For conventional winter oat varieties the aim should be to store the grain at 15% moisture.