Spring oats offer an alternative for growers struggling to secure seed

Spring oats aren’t for the faint hearted, but they offer an alternative crop option for growers who are struggling to secure spring seed.

However, managing the large amounts of straw needs to be taken into account before opting for the crop.

Spring oats have proved valuable for committed Perthshire grower Andrew Kirkland, having been part of his rotation for a generation. He is growing about 28ha of Canyon for seed.

His advice for would-be growers is to prioritise drilling before spring barley, with the aim of getting it in the ground in the second half of March.

Nitrogen is applied at the “top end” rates, usually between 90 to 100 kg/ha. “But we adhere to nitrate vulnerable zone guidelines, so amounts can vary according on the previous crop.”

Mr Kirkland has successfully used the growth regulator Moddus (trinexepac) for several seasons. However, leaf scorch was a problem in 2011, so he advises careful selection of other chemicals when applying as a tank mix.

He regularly monitors his crop for mildew. “Two treatments may be necessary, however, Canyon has shown strong resistance and mildew has not been bad in recent years.”

“Managing the large amounts of straw could be a problem for some growers,” warns Mr Kirkland.

“We have cattle, so use what we produce, but there is about 50% more straw than for a barley crop so disposal needs planning. Here in Perthshire there is a good market for the straw, but that may not be the case in eastern England.”

The Germans are coming

Greater demand for spring seed has prompted Elsoms to import seed for the high yielding German variety, Flocke.
The variety comes from the firm’s German plant breeding partner, SW Lantmannen.
Elsoms agricultural sales manager, Adrian Hayler says it is a new variety for 2013 and produces a high yield of an excellent sample of bold low husk content, grain.
In 26 trials across Germany last season, it averaged 8.3t/ha.
It is a medium maturing variety with short straw and good standing power, he adds.

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