Oats: essentials

Page last updated: Thursday, 5 October 2017 - 1:30pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.


Use well filled seed from paddocks with a good fertiliser history. Adjust seed rate according to seed size and germination percentage to achieve a target plant population of between 185 and 250 plants per square metre for non-dwarf varieties (depending on variety), and more than 240 plants per square metre for dwarf varieties to obtain maximum grain yield. Treat seed to control pests and diseases where appropriate. Where there is a likelihood of waterlogging, higher seed rates should be used to compensate for reduced tiller numbers.

Variety and grade

Yield will be the main determinant of returns but grain quality has now become an important consideration. Choose a range of two or more varieties to suit likely sowing opportunities in your area and consider producing a high value, manufacturing variety if varieties suit your rainfall, soil type and rotation. In the higher rainfall areas dwarf oats are high yielding, more responsive to nitrogen fertilisers than non-dwarf oats, and are likely to be a good option for on-farm feed crops. Assess risk factors of varieties such as disease susceptibilities, herbicide sensitivities, dockages for downgraded samples, susceptibility to weather damage, coleoptile length, tolerance to acid soil and boron toxicity.

For more information see Oats: choosing a variety.

Seeding method and depth

Depth of sowing should not be greater than coleoptile length — 30-60 millimetres (mm) for most varieties. Preparation of a good seed bed is essential for the successful production of naked oats.

For more information see Oats: seeding and establishment.

Sowing time

Match variety to sowing time. Long season varieties should be sown first (late April to mid-May) and short season varieties later (June). As sowing is delayed the yields of all varieties will be reduced. Before mid-May, crops should only be sown where weeds were thoroughly controlled in the previous season. Both weed competition and waterlogging will reduce yields and quality more than delayed sowing. Lodging and shedding is reduced when sowing is delayed but in doing this, yield is also reduced.

Weed control

Control of weeds in the crop by chemicals should be timely with respect to both weed size and development of the crop. Take care to rotate chemicals to delay inducing herbicide resistance where this may be a problem. Where weeds are likely to be a problem, the seeding rate can be increased up to more than 400 plants per square metre without reducing yields or quality.

For more information see Oats: weeds and integrated weed management.

Insect control

Inspect crops regularly and control redlegged earth mite and lucerne flea during the seedling stage if necessary. Aphids should be checked and controlled from flag leaf stage and later in crops considered to be high yielding (over 4t/ha). Aphids can also transmit barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV). If growing susceptible varieties in areas with moderate to high BYDV risk then spraying the crop with a synthetic pyrethroid at 4-5 weeks after sowing is advisable.

For more information see Oats: insect pests.


The major diseases that effect oats are stem rust, leaf rust, barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) and Septoria avenae blotch. The severity of these changes with seasons.

For more information see Oats: leaf diseases.

Contact information