Farm Management

Dry summer puts forage oats on the menu

Queensland cattle producers planting forage outs are reminded that high quality seed is the key to good germination, quicker emergence and early plant vigour.

Senior Plant Breeder at the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Bruce Winter, said restricted summer pasture growth meant producers would have little standing feed heading into autumn and winter.

“Forage oats is an excellent option for fattening livestock, due to its ability to produce good quality, highly palatable feed when most summer pastures are dormant,” Mr Winter said.

“Growers should look out for seed with high germination and varietal purity and buy from a reputable seed merchant.”

“Details of the germination rate and seed purity should be listed on a tag on each bag of seed,” he said.

The planting window for forage oats is general from mid-March, when rain arrives and temperatures start to decline.

Mr Winter said growers should avoid planting in warm or hot soils.

“Soil temperatures above 25°C will reduce seed germination and result in poor crop establishment,” Mr Winter said.

“The ideal soil temperature for oats to germinate is between 15 °C and 25 °C,” he said.

In southern Queensland the recommended planting rates for forage oats are 40–60 kg/ha and in central and western Queensland the recommended planting rates are 25–40 kg/ha.

Planting rates should be adjusted for germination, seed size and percentage establishment in the field.

Mr Winter said growers should also be aware that many varieties of oats were covered by Plant Breeder’s Rights.

“This means any variety covered by Plant Breeder’s Rights has restrictions on how it can be used,” Mr Winter said.

“Seed harvested from the variety and seed from subsequent harvests cannot be sold as seed for sowing.

“This also means trading the seed between farmers is not permitted.

“The Plant Breeder’s Rights system is important as without it there would be little incentive for plant breeding programs to continue to invest in developing new varieties that are improving productivity for growers.”

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