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Forage Identification: Oats

Department of Plant Sciences

Oats (Avena sativa L.)

Oats origin is Asia and Europe. Feed oats are tolerant of heavy, wet soils. They are more winter sensitive than other small grains.


Growth Habitat:
Oats are an annual grass crop. They are a tiller plant and can be prostrate, semi-prostrate or upright in growth.


Plant Characteristics:
Oats do not have an auricle.  It has a greatly shortened stem with leaves giving a rosette type of plant. Each plant has tiller or branch buds from the fibrous root under the soils surface that grow into additional plants. Leaves are wider than other small grains. Leaf blades are smooth a the the base, become rough near the tip. Rough or hairy margins. Leaf sheath is round, smooth or hairy and split or overlapping. Leaf collar is broad and divided and auricles are absent. Ligule is rounded and finely toothed. Seed head has a panicle. Stems are hollow and jointed.


Seed Characteristics:
It is elongated and spindle shaped. It is generally covered with fine, silky hairs and includes the seed coat layer. Spring seeding is the main practice.

Important Identifying Characteristics:
Oats do not have auricle, leaves are wider than those of other small grains.

Primary Uses:
Hay, pasture and silage.

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