In general, oats have good tolerance to warmer soil temperatures and heat and can be sown earlier than other cereals or ryegrass. They have good dry tolerance once established, but perform poorer than ryegrass if the soil becomes waterlogged. Oats are suitable for all classes of livestock and are a good option for early planting. They have good early vigour and can provide good feed in late autumn, early winter. Winter growth of oats is generally lower than that of wheat, barley or ryegrass. There are two main types of Oats used on the tablelands, forage and dual purpose.
Forage oats such as Bond, Austin, Comet, Taipan and Drover as well as many others, are typically very vigorous with upright growth habits and broad leaves. These varieties are excellent for providing a large bulk of feed coming into winter for grazing, or being left grow to produce a high yielding hay or silage cut. With careful management, they can provide both. Forage oats often have a high crown, which can leave them susceptible to grazing damage and reduce regrowth post grazing if grazed too low. Most of these varieties are considered to be late flowering. Use these varieties if you need a large bulk of standing feed, or are looking for a good hay/silage yield.
Compared to forage oats, dual purpose oats are usually shorter with narrower leaves. They also usually have a lower growing point, making them more grazing tolerant. Dual purpose oats can be split into two categories. Spring oats such as Yarran, Yiddah and Coolabah are often cheaper to purchase, but are early flowering and are susceptible to running up to head early if exposed to hot dry conditions in autumn. Winter types such as, Bass, Nile and Blackbutt have a strong vernalisation requirement that reduces the risk of early flowering. Bass offers good Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus (BYDV) resistance and has a low crown, dense growth habit and good winter growth. Bass is an ideal winter crop option for grazing systems where the oat needs to be planted early and will be grazed through late autumn into winter. Blackbutt is an older variety that was bred at Glen Innes.