Scientific name(s)
Plant description
Pasture type and use
Where it grows
Animal production
Further information
Author and date
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Forage oats

Scientific name(s)

Avena sativa



Plant description

Plant: tufted annual grows to nearly 2m tall

Stems: Stout hollow culm with conspicuous nodes

Leaves: flat & narrow and veined; taper to a fine point. Rolled in bud

Seedhead: large pendulous spikelet, 15-30 mm long; 2-3 florets

Seeds:  ~50,000/kg

Pasture type and use

Sown in autumn for winter bilk.  Some varieties suited to multi-uses - e.g. high quality hay export/grain production.
Often used to provide weed control and soil preparation prior to renovating with perennial pasture.  Robust so often used as a pioneer crop on new land.

Where it grows


> 400 mm


Well drained. Tolerates a broad pH range.


Avoid sowing when soil temperature <12oC or >25oC


Companion species

Legumes: clovers, peas, vetch, medics

Sowing/planting rates as single species

Sow into a cultivated seedbed to a depth of 35-70 mm at 25 - 120 kg/ha depending on soil type/region and expected rainfall.

Sowing/planting rates in mixtures

15 - 50 kg/ha

Sowing time

Sow late summer/early Autumn.  Can be sown dry (sow >50 mm).


Not applicable.


Sow with 10 kg P/ha.  If using MAP/DAP sow separately from the seed.


Maintenance fertliser

35-70 kg N/ha, ensure P, K, S, Zn  are adequate


Graze prior to stem elongation. Leave 12 cm residues/lowest stem node. Repeat grazings after a month's recovery.  Where yield is high it is usually strip-grazed by dairy cattle along a long front - to minimize trampling losses. A back fence may maximise regrowth.

Seed production

Widely cultivated grain crop. Prolific seed set if not kept grazed or cut.

Ability to spread

Regenerates from self-sown seed.

Weed potential

Dropped seed may see plants regenerate for a season or two.

Major pests

Cereal cyst nematode, stem nematode, red-legged earth mite, snails, cereal aphis (re BYDV transmission), cutworms, webworm, lucerne flea, army worm, Bruobia mite, wingless grasshoppers and Australian plague locust

Major diseases

Leaf rust, stem rust, Septoria blotch, bacterial blight, barley yellow dwarf virus, halo blight, stripe blight, powdery mildew

Herbicide susceptibility


Animal production

Feeding value

Winter feed typically 70% digestibility, 7-8% crude protein.


Readily acceptable

Production potential

Up to 7 t DM/ha by spring where moisture is available and soil fertility is good

Livestock disorders/toxicity

Young plants can accumulate a high level of nitrates and lead to nitrite poisoning, especially in cattle. Slow growth, hot dry conditions or frost/hail damage can elevate nitrate level.


A great number of oat cultivars are available.  Some are bred for hay, grazing/hay or grazing/grain.  Current grazing cultivars include those listed below

Maturity Cultivar Seed source/Information
Early Yiddah GRDC/NSWDPI
Early/Medium Brusher SARDI
Medium Volta

Heritage Seeds

  Drover Pacific Seeds
Medium/Late Outback Seed Distributors
  Graza 51 Austgrains Pty Ltd
  Panfive Panorama seeds, Pittworth, Qld
Late Nugene

Heritage Seeds

  Targa TDPIW
  Moola Queensland Agricultural Seeds Pty Ltd
  Graza 80 Austgrains Pty Ltd
  Dawson Pacific Seeds
Riel Queensland Agricultural Seeds Pty Ltd
Taipan Pacific Seeds
Enterprise Heritage Seeds
Genie QDPI&F/Heritage Seeds
Galileo Heritage Seeds

 Denotes that this variety is protected by Plant Breeder's Rights Australia

Further information

QDPI&F - Forage oats variety guide 2009

NSWDPI - Dryland Forage Oats: Guide to dry matter production and consumption

VicDPI - Oats


DPIs and Seed companies

Author and date

K. Reed

March 2009