Growers Report Oats Not Performing As Expected

Growers Report Oats Not Performing As Expected

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been bombarded with questions about why oats are short and heading out early. I’m still looking for the answer.

Oats are becoming more and more popular as an inexpensive, reliable forage. The crop tends to thrive during cool, wet springs, such as we had this year from mid-April through May, which further begs the question as to why they’re so short.

 UNL research plots in Lincoln are at least 18 inches shorter than last spring and 10 to 14 days ahead of maturity. During discussions among faculty we considered several factors.

Possible Factors Affecting Oat Growth

With the warm temperatures we had in March and early April, it would seem logical that oats might develop abnormally fast. Unfortunately, some oat fields were planted after these warm days and are still short and quickly developing.

Was it too wet, we asked. Maybe in some fields but many other fields didn’t have overly wet conditions. Was it too cloudy?  That could cause short plants but not early maturity.

How about the cold snaps in early or mid-May? This has a bit more possibility.  Still, there was a wide variation of morning lows from the teens or low 20s to other areas getting no colder than the upper 30s.

 The bottom line is we don’t know the cause, but will be continuing to follow the question.