Avena sativa Annual grass. A late-heading vigorous oat that has gained a cult following among dairy farmers and veggie growers alike. More heat-tolerant than common oats. Seed in springtime at 100#/acre, 3#/1000 sq ft.
As cover crop: Exceptionally vigorous seedlings and lush leafy growth make forage oats especially competitive with weeds. Will build more biomass than common oats. Faster seedling growth than BMR or millet, though these crops will eventually outstrip any oats in height. Customer Alex Redfield told us that his forage oats made as much biomass as common oats sown at twice the rate.
As forage: If cut in the early boot stage (when the flower head is only just detectable inside the leaf sheath) the hay can achieve protein levels of 19% and the plant will regrow for a second crop. Forage oats harvested at the soft-dough stage (when the kernel is developing but still soft enough to cut with a fingernail) achieved dry-matter yields of nearly 4 tons per acre in a 2010 University of Vermont trial. If allowed to reach full height, the plants will top 5' and yield a large crop of excellent bedding straw. Also suitable for grazing.
8076 Forage Oats - Organic
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Avena spp. Oats are a real workhorse of a cover crop. They are inexpensive to sow, they’re not fussy about their soil, they build generous amounts of carbonaceous biomass, they’re competitive with weeds, they love cool weather but tolerate warm weather, they get along well with legumes like peas and clover in mixes, and they die over the winter (at least in New England—they’re hardy to 15°) so they don’t cause the spring headache that rye does.
As if their prowess as a cover crop weren’t enough, the grain may be used as food or feed, and oat straw makes some of the finest, softest mulch you’ll ever have the pleasure to kneel on. Try planting oats in early August and then planting your garlic into the living oats around mid-October—the oats will die over the winter and your garlic beds will be already mulched come spring. And there’s more! Herbalists favor “milky oats” (oat heads harvested when they are still green and the kernels exude a milky substance when squeezed) as a gentle restorative tonic.