Taking Advantage of the Spring Oat Opportunity

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With the right modern agronomy, spring oats offer one of the most attractive cropping options for difficult black-grass ground, in particular, believes Agrii northern R&D manager, Jim Carswell. Not least with the increasing demand for gluten-free and other ‘healthy’ foods.

As well as a true cereal break, Stow Longa work shows oats are more competitive with grassweeds than other spring cereals. Agrii costings reveal them to be one of the highest margin potential spring crops for 2018.

At the same time, they have much greater sowing date flexibility and are noticeably more tolerant of low pH and wet soils than either spring wheat or barley, They also leave a much better soil structure for the following crop courtesy of their highly-fibrous rooting.

“Spring oats today are perfectly capable of delivering a good 7-8 t/ha commercially,” Jim Carswell pointed out. “Indeed, we have seen 2017 yields comfortably over 9 t/ha in our national variety trials. Yet even the latest RB209 revision assumes spring oat nutrient offtakes based on just 6t/ha.

“If growers are to capitalise on the valuable opportunity spring oats offer they need to base their management on altogether more realistic performance assumptions, together with the most appropriate modern agronomy. The integrated spring oat research programme we have expanded in recent years to provide the best guidance is already paying dividends here.”

As well as identifying higher performance varieties with the characteristics the market requires, Agrii work across the country is providing the most up-to-date advice on their sowing rates, seed treatment, macro and micro-nutrition, fungicide treatment and plant growth regulation for the most consistent results.

In doing so it is underlining the particular value of spring oats as cereal break and the importance of managing them in the right way to avoid a number of key issues.

“Oats are more tolerant than other spring cereals both of sowing well into April and of more difficult soil conditions,” Jim Carswell stressed. “The later you sow it, though, the later it comes to harvest. This is a clear watch-out for northern growers.

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